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Title: Epidemiology and ecology of microbial communities of the upper respiratory tract
Author: Coughtrie, Abigail Lois
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 3884
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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Respiratory tract infections (RTI) are responsible for over 4 million deaths per year worldwide. Microbial carriage in the upper respiratory tract is a precursor to respiratory infection and facilitates person-to-person transmission. A large community-based swabbing study was conducted, enabling the collection of a large number of swab samples that would provide key information concerning the epidemiology and ecology of respiratory tract communities. Traditional culture-based techniques, molecular methods and ecological and mathematical modelling methods were used. Participation of members of the community within the swabbing study was shown to be greater within the self-swabbing group, in older individuals and in less deprived locations. Carriage of bacterial and viral species within the respiratory tract was shown to vary with participant age, recent RTI and the presence of other species. Self-taken swabs were largely non-inferior to healthcare professional (HCP)-taken swabs in assessing carriage of the targeted bacteria, offering a cheaper and more flexible alternative to HCP swabbing. Large numbers of capsular types (serotypes), sequence types and low levels of vaccine-targeted types demonstrate the genetic diversity of respiratory bacteria as well as their evolution in response to immunisation. Microbial respiratory community structure was shown to be highly variable with less nested communities and facilitative relationships between species within young individuals and those with recent RTI potentially enhancing transmission and survival of carried species. Neutral and niche processes were both found to be important in respiratory tract community assembly. These insights into respiratory tract communities will allow predictions of microbial variation as a result of infection, varying age and season. Future work will involve 16S rDNA community analysis, further development of ecological methods and the conduction of larger multi-centre carriage studies.
Supervisor: Clarke, Stuart ; Doncaster, P. ; Kraaijeveld, Lex Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available