My research focuses on the application of molecular genetics and genomics to the ecology and conservation of endangered species. As molecular ecologists we use molecular data in elusive marine species to assist conservation management questions, particularly in top predators, the elasmobranchs. Yet the biology of long-lived and enigmatic ‘flagship’ species such as the Great white and basking shark is surprisingly poorly understood. We seek to comprehend how genetic diversity evolves in these small, highly vagile populations, the role that local adaptation plays and its consequence for conservation biology and management, along with the impacts of renewable energy facilities. We utilize methods such as DNA profiling (genetic tagging) through to next generation sequencing, integrating these data with seascape analyses (GIS) in an effort to provide comprehensive information for biodiversity management and conservation, such as implementation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Work has recently expanded to include the reproductive health of elasmobranchs, examining diversity at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), containing some of the most polymorphic immune loci within the vertebrates, and parasite burden, as well as the impact of pollutants acting as endocrine disruptors (EDs).
Additionally I seek to understand the invasive nature of several Arionid slugs, vectors of many plant diseases, which is of fundamental importance for national and international crop security. Similarly understanding the evolution of host-parasite interactions in several aquatic systems (including the medically important freshwater snail intermediate host of trematodes, Biomphalaria glabrata and the ectoparasitism in commercially important Atlantic salmon by sealice or the monogenean, Gyrodactylus salaris) is of fundamental importance.
2013-2017 Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Title: ‘Genetic monitoring of the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus in Scottish waters to address environmental impacts; effective population size, population connectivity and group kinship’; Co PI with Dr Noble.
2015-2016: NBAF942 NERC funding. Access to NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) Steering Committee at for NBAF Sheffield (NBAF-S) for microsatellite isolation and genotyping. Title: Genetic monitoring to assess the potential for anthropogenic impacts in the endangered common skate in the north east Atlantic: genetic diversity, connectivity and effective population size. Co PI with Dr Noble.
2014-2016 NBAF765 NERC funding. Access to Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) Sheffield. Title: ‘Stock structure, residency and kinship of white shark aggregations along the South African coast.’ Access to NBAF-S to develop and apply a SNP array based on RAD-tag markers to investigate kinship in white sharks from south Africa. Co PI with Dr Noble.
2011-2014 Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF). Title: ‘Mediterranean Great white sharks a cause for concern?: an endangered anomalous population’. CoPI with Dr Noble
2013-2014: NBAF723 NERC funding. Access to NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) Steering Committee at for NBAFSheffield (NBAF-S) for microsatellite isolation and genotyping. Title: Population structure, kinship and the demographic history of the basking shark,Cetorhinus maximus. Co PI with Dr Noble.
2014-2015 NBAF764 NERC funding. Access to Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) Sheffield.Title: ‘Baseline data for assessing environmental impacts on basking sharks in Scottish waters: effective population size, connectivity and group kinship. Access to NBAF-S to develop and apply a SNP array based on RAD-tag markers to develop baseline properties of genetic variation in Scottish populations of Cetorhinus sharks. Co PI with Dr Noble.
2014-2015 NBAF764 NERC funding. Access to Biomolecular Analysis Facility (NBAF) Sheffield. Title: ‘Baseline data for assessing environmental impacts on basking sharks in Scottish waters: effective population size, connectivity and group kinship. Access to NBAF-S to develop and apply a SNP array based on RAD-tag markers to develop baseline properties of genetic variation in Scottish populations of Cetorhinus sharks. CoPI with Dr Noble.
2009-2013 NC3Rs (The National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research) joint with BBSRC. Title: ‘The Snail Assay as an Alternative to the Rodent Hershberger Assay for Detecting Androgens and Anti-androgens’. CoPIs with Drs Sue Jobling (PI; Brunel), Ed Routledge (Brunel), and Les Noble (Aberdeen).
2003-2009 Wellcome Trust; 'Biomphalaria glabrata: gene discovery, expression profiling and interval mapping to elucidate mechanisms of resistance to Schistosoma mansoni'. Principal Investigator. (with Dr L.R Noble).
2004-2006 DEFRA; 'Conservation genetics of basking sharks'. Principal Investigator.(With Dr L.R.Noble).
2001/2004 MAFF. Immune Gene Expression during PKD infection. (With Prof. C. Secombes & Dr L.Noble).
2001/2004 EU Aberdeen University as Coordinators. (SALMOGYRO) The genetic basis of Gryrodactylus salaris Resistance in Altantic salmon (Salmo salar). (With Dr L.Noble).
1997/2002 BBSRC Advanced Fellowship to CSJ. Molecular genetic analysis and evolution of parasite resistance.
1999/ 2003 NERC Link Aquaculture / Scottish Salmon Growers/ Marine Harvest Scotland Identification of disease resistance genes and markers in Atlantic salmon differing in their susceptibility to sealice infection. (With Dr L. Noble & Prof. C. Secombes).