Aquatic pathogens transit between extreme environments of nutrient depleted water in which they exist in a semi-starvation state and the host in which they are continually challenged by innate and adaptive immunity.

This has led to highly efficient mechanisms to colonise aquatic (and occasionally human) hosts - marine pathogens have completely stripped-down genomes and only carry the bare essentials for colonisation making them highly competitive when nutrients are scarce, but still highly capable of evading or subverting the hosts defences.

We use genomics and lab models to track the evolution of these pathogens as they move between host environments in order to understand how they evolve and adapt in a changing world, and how new strains arise.

This enables us to formulate better vaccines for aquaculture and identify biosecurity threats to our aquaculture industry. It also tells us much about how human pathogens evolve under stress.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Andrew Barnes