Bacteriology research

Area of Expertise:

AFBI scientists have participated in numerous European and other R&D projects and have a strong track record of peer-reviewed publications and presentation of R&D findings to science, policy and industry audiences.

Bacteriology research at AFBI Stormont

The research work undertaken at AFBI Stormont includes both applied (translational) and basic research, reflecting the mix of DARD-funded and externally-funded research work conducted.

AFBI is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence in bovine tuberculosis (bTB) research and development, with AFBI researchers active in international and collaborative research networks.

AFBI research is recognised internationally for developing new DNA-based approaches to studying the evolution and transmission dynamics of important bacterial pathogens.

AFBI scientists have participated in numerous European and other R&D projects and have a strong track record of peer-reviewed publications and presentation of R&D findings to science, policy and industry audiences. R&D is quality certified to ISO9001.

Bovine tuberculosis research

R&D undertaken at AFBI Stormont aims to improve the understanding of bTB infection and to provide technologies to assist DAERA and the NI agri-food industry to achieve its objective of bTB eradication.

This R&D programme has included the development of high resolution strain typing techniques and the description of the immune response to infection in cattle and has directly led to the routine use of strain typing as a surveillance and outbreak investigation tool, and the application of interferon gamma as a supplementary test in bovine tuberculosis control.

Through international collaborations established by AFBI, significant benefit is provided to DAERA and the local agri-food industry from the latest international R&D findings being available.

Recent R&D projects have included:

  • Evaluation of novel vaccine candidates,
  • Investigation of genetic susceptibility and molecular epidemiology of cattle to bTB,
  • Investigation of the impact of co-infection on bTB disease development and diagnosis,
  • Evaluation of immunological test performance;
  • Case-control and other risk factor studies;
  • Analysis of the performance characteristics of diagnostic tests from large-scale field datasets

Epidemiology research

Epidemiology research at AFBI has included case-control and other risk factor studies, analysis of the performance characteristics of diagnostic tests from large-scale field datasets, and projects on molecular and genetic epidemiology.

Current research includes projects on the transmission dynamics and evolution of TB, and the genetics of disease resistance of cattle to TB.

Other non-bTB R&D projects include work in relation to on-farm biosecurity and antimicrobial resistance.

Immunology / Pathogenesis research

Bovine tuberculosis and paratuberculosis immunology research at AFBI includes the investigation of cellular and humoral immune responses to infection and co-infection with pathogens; disease transmission studies; development of new diagnostics reagents; developing novel vaccine candidates and adjuvants; characterising the effects of co-infection on disease development and diagnosis, evaluation and validation of immunological test performance.

This expertise has attracted collaborative research from experts in human tuberculosis, leading to the sharing of diagnostic reagents and opportunities to evaluate potential new vaccines.

DAERA-funded Evidence & Innovation Projects

AFBI Stormont undertakes a number of Evidence &Innovation Projects for DAERA.

The following projects are currently being conducted:

  • The role of endemic diseases and other factors in the occurrence of bovine tuberculosis.
  • Investigations into antimicrobial resistance and veterinary antimicrobial prescribing practice in Northern Ireland.
  • An assessment of commercially available serological tests for the detection of cattle infected with bovine tuberculosis.
  • An assessment of farmers’ understanding of biosecurity measures, the consequences of not applying biosecurity measures and their attitudes towards applying biosecurity measures when dealing with diseases.
  • An evaluation of the role of multiple reactor and chronic breakdown herds in the epidemiology of bTB in Northern Ireland.
  • Investigating TB transmission dynamics using genome epidemiology.

The following project was recently completed:

  • An evaluation of interferon-gamma (IFN-g) testing for bTB in Northern Ireland.