A postdoctoral position of 3 years, funded by the Laboratory of Excellence Integrative Biology of Emerging Infectious Diseases (LabEx IBEID: http://www.pasteur.fr/labex/ibeid), is available in the ” Functional Genetics of Infectious Diseases Unit” in Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, from January 2022.
Microbiological monitoring: new horizons for tick-borne diseases
Worldwide, ticks are the most important vectors of pathogens that affect animals, and the second only to mosquitoes that affect humans. In Europe, Ixodes ricinus is the most widespread and abundant tick and is the vector of several tick-borne diseases (TBD) of medical and veterinary importance, including Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis in humans, and babesiosis and granulocytic anaplasmosis in livestock. However, other tick species responsible for pathogen transmission are also present in Europe and in France. Due to the intensification of human and animal movements and to socio-economic and environmental changes, the geographical distribution of several tick species is expanding and emergence or re-emergence of TBD is a growing problem in the “One Health” context. Currently, we have no real knowledge of the potential risk of TBD in differing ecological contexts and especially those juxtaposing urban environments.
In this project we will focus on tick and associated pathogen diversity and abundance in three types of environment in the Paris region: peri-urban woods, peri-urban parks and urban parks. Following the collection of ticks, we will determine the species present, their density, and pathogens hosted by detection of their RNA to identify the communities of parasites, bacteria and viruses. By classifying the region into these three environmental typologies, risk maps based on our results will be established in collaboration with Olivier Telle, CNRS UMR 8504 Geography-cities.
In addition, a current major obstacle to effective surveillance of TBDs is the lack of any meaningful monitoring method that can be easily implemented across the wide range of environmental settings and with often limited laboratory capacity. Our collaborators have developed a mini-laboratory system contained in a suitcase (Lab-suitcase) which allows, directly at the collection sites and via the amplification of the recombinase polymerase, detection of the presence of various microorganisms in mosquitoes. To date, this test has not yet been evaluated in the context of the detection of pathogens hosted by ticks and will be part of this current study. Once implemented, this methodology will first be compared to the “classical” detection of pathogens in ticks collected in the Paris region and then possibly applied to other contexts.
This project should therefore make it possible (i) to estimate the risk of exposure of populations to ticks and pathogens that they can transmit in the Paris region and to provide basic epidemiological data required for any prevention or control action, and (ii) to develop the Lab-suitcase system for its possible use as a standard tool in remote sites.
Candidate requirements: PhD. The successful candidate should have basic skills in molecular biology. Knowledge in epidemiology, entomology and / or ecology of ticks will be much appreciated but not essential, being covered by the expertise of the host laboratories. Knowledge of the French language would be most appreciated because of the contacts that will be made with local communities. The selection of the candidate will be done after analysis of the application file (CV, cover letter, and names of referring persons) and interview with R. Paul and S. Bonnet.