Professor Rob Kingsley and Dr Gaetan Thilliez from the Quadram Institute are teaming up with Prof. Neil Hall of the Earlham Institute and Dr Sekesai Zinyowera and Tapfumanei Mashe of the National Microbiology Reference Laboratory in Harare to investigate the association of Salmonella Typhi with protists in the aquatic environment of Zimbabwe.
Typhoid fever remains a major public health problem in Zimbabwe, with Harare the most affected city. Poor sanitation in some areas of Harare results in reduced drinking water quality, a key risk factor for Salmonella Typhi transmission. Protists, minute unicellular organisms, have been proposed to be a safe harbour for Salmonella Typhi, in intracellular vacuoles, and may be an evolved strategy for survival in water.
The project will bring to bear cutting-edge whole genome and metagenome sequencing technologies and will pave the way for a deeper understanding of the survival and transmission strategies employed by Salmonella in the environment.
This project is being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through a new Global Grand Challenge Exploration (GCE) to examine the environmental niches of S. Typhi.
It will bring together scientists from the Zimbabwe National Microbiological Reference Laboratory with scientists from the Quadram Institute and the Earlham Institute in the United Kingdom to investigate the co-existence of protozoa and Salmonella Typhi, and the epidemiological link to typhoid fever in residents of Harare, Zimbabwe. The project builds on a collaboration between Zimbabwe and UK organizations that has begun to reveal for the first time, the molecular epidemiology of typhoid fever in Zimbabwe.
Quadram Institute researchers are also involved in two further grants from this Global Grand Challenge Exploration:
Exploring the micro-ecology of sediment associated biofilms in high typhoid incidence settings in Fiji led by Dr Aaron Jenkins, University of Sydney. QI: Dr Gemma Langridge, Dr Alison Mather.
Investigating persistence of S. Typhi in the aquatic environment in Madagascar, led by Prof. France Daigle, Université de Montréal. QI: Dr Gemma Langridge and Prof. John Wain.