Guido completed an MSc in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bologna in 2004. From there he was selected to attend a Specialisation School (equivalent to PGDip) on Animal Health, Breeding and Livestock Products that he completed with honours, submitting a thesis on The Use of Geographic Information Systems in Veterinary Medicine.
In 2007 Guido was awarded a DEFRA (FERA) PhD studentship in the Department of Virology at the University of Surrey, under the supervision of Prof Lisa Roberts and Dr Giles Budge. The project involved the Characterisation and Epidemiology of honey bee viruses in England and Wales.
Upon completing his PhD, Guido undertook successive fixed term Postdoctoral positions with Prof Roberto La Ragione working on molecular diagnostic of different animal bacterial and mycotic diseases and on comparative genomics of Escherichia coli (APEC-UPEC), Campylobacter and Clostridium perfringens.
From February 2016 to 2019, Guido worked in the University of York on the LANGELIN project 'Meeting Darwin's last challenge: toward a global tree of human languages and genes'.
From November 2019 he works as a Research Fellow in Molecular Microbiology, working on the One Health European Joint Programme, in the Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases.
Areas of specialism
Affiliations and memberships
VMS2003 - FOUNDATIONS OF DISEASE THREE - PATHOLOGY OF THE INTEGUMENT AND ALIMENTARY SYSTEMS
Peritoneal & Retroperitoneal Pathology
Background Avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) causes colibacillosis, which results in significant economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide. However, the diversity between isolates remains poorly understood. Here, a total of 272 APEC isolates collected from the United Kingdom (UK), Italy and Germany were characterised using multiplex polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) targeting 22 equally weighted factors covering virulence genes, R-type and phylogroup. Following these analysis, 95 of the selected strains were further analysed using Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). Results The most prevalent phylogroups were B2 (47%) and A1 (22%), although there were national differences with Germany presenting group B2 (35.3%), Italy presenting group A1 (53.3%) and UK presenting group B2 (56.1%) as the most prevalent. R-type R1 was the most frequent type (55%) among APEC, but multiple R-types were also frequent (26.8%). Following compilation of all the PCR data which covered a total of 15 virulence genes, it was possible to build a similarity tree using each PCR result unweighted to produce 9 distinct groups. The average number of virulence genes was 6-8 per isolate, but no positive association was found between phylogroup and number or type of virulence genes. A total of 95 isolates representing each of these 9 groupings were genome sequenced and analysed for in silico serotype, Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST), and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The UK isolates showed the greatest variability in terms of serotype and MLST compared with German and Italian isolates, whereas the lowest prevalence of AMR was found for German isolates. Similarity trees were compiled using sequencing data and notably single nucleotide polymorphism data generated ten distinct geno-groups. The frequency of geno-groups across Europe comprised 26.3% belonging to Group 8 representing serogroups O2, O4, O18 and MLST types ST95, ST140, ST141, ST428, ST1618 and others, 18.9% belonging to Group 1 (serogroups O78 and MLST types ST23, ST2230), 15.8% belonging to Group 10 (serogroups O8, O45, O91, O125ab and variable MLST types), 14.7% belonging to Group 7 (serogroups O4, O24, O35, O53, O161 and MLST type ST117) and 13.7% belonging to Group 9 (serogroups O1, O16, O181 and others and MLST 51 types ST10, ST48 and others). The other groups (2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) each contained relatively few strains. However, for some of the genogroups (e.g. groups 6 and 7) partial overlap with SNPs grouping and PCR grouping (matching PCR groups 8 (13 isolates on 22) and 1 (14 isolates on 16) were observable). However, it was not possible to obtain a clear correlation between genogroups and unweighted PCR groupings. This may be due to the genome plasticity of E. coli that enables strains to carry the same virulence factors even if the overall genotype is substantially different. Conclusions The conclusion to be drawn from the lack of correlations is that firstly, APEC are very diverse and secondly, it is not possible to rely on any one or more basic molecular or phenotypic tests to define APEC with clarity, reaffirming the need for whole genome analysis approaches which we describe here. This study highlights the presence of previously unreported serotypes and MLSTs for APEC in Europe. Moreover, it is a first step on a cautious reconsideration of the merits of classical identification criteria such as R typing, phylogrouping and serotyping.
This study assessed the prevalence and zoonotic potential of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) sampled from 104 dairy units in the central region of Zambia and compared these with isolates from patients presenting with diarrhoea in the same region. A subset of 297 E. coli strains were sequenced allowing in silico analyses of phylo- and sero-groups. The majority of the bovine strains clustered in the B1 ‘commensal’ phylogroup (67%) and included a diverse array of serogroups. 11% (41/371) of the isolates from Zambian dairy cattle contained Shiga toxin genes (stx) while none (0/73) of the human isolates were positive. While the toxicity of a subset of these isolates was demonstrated, none of the randomly selected STEC belonged to key serogroups associated with human disease and none encoded a type 3 secretion system synonymous with typical enterohaemorrhagic strains. Positive selection for E. coli O157:H7 across the farms identified only one positive isolate again indicating this serotype is rare in these animals. In summary, while Stx-encoding E. coli strains are common in this dairy population, the majority of these strains are unlikely to cause disease in humans. However, the threat remains of the emergence of strains virulent to humans from this reservoir.
Pigs infected with Salmonella may excrete large amounts of Salmonella, increasing the risk of spread of this pathogen in the food chain. Identifying Salmonella high shedder pigs is therefore required to mitigate this risk. We analyzed immune-associated markers and composition of the gut microbiota in specific-pathogen-free pigs presenting different shedding levels after an oral infection with Salmonella. Immune response was studied through total blood cell counts, production of anti-Salmonella antibodies and cytokines, and gene expression quantification. Total Salmonella shedding for each pig was estimated and hierarchical clustering was used to cluster pigs into high, intermediate, and low shedders. Gut microbiota compositions were assessed using 16S rRNA microbial community profiling. Comparisons were made between control and inoculated pigs, then between high and low shedders pigs. Prior to infection, high shedders had similar immunological profiles compared to low shedders. As soon as 1 day postinoculation (dpi), significant differences on the cytokine production level and on the expression level of several host genes related to a proinflammatory response were observed between high and low shedders. Infection with Salmonella induced an early and profound remodeling of the immune response in all pigs, but the intensity of the response was stronger in high shedders. In contrast, low shedders seroconverted earlier than high shedders. Just after induction of the proinflammatory response (at 2 dpi), some taxa of the fecal microbiota were specific to the shedding phenotypes. This was related to the enrichment of several functional pathways related to anaerobic respiration in high shedders. In conclusion, our data show that the immune response to Salmonella modifies the fecal microbiota and subsequently could be responsible for shedding phenotypes. Influencing the gut microbiota and reducing intestinal inflammation could be a strategy for preventing Salmonella high shedding in livestock. Salmonellosis remains the most frequent human foodborne zoonosis after campylobacteriosis and pork meat is considered one of the major sources of human foodborne infections. At the farm, host heterogeneity in pig infection is problematic. High Salmonella shedders contribute more significantly to the spread of this foodborne pathogen in the food chain. The identification of predictive biomarkers for high shedders could help to control Salmonella in pigs. The purpose of the present study was to investigate why some pigs become super shedders and others low shedders. We thus investigated the differences in the fecal microbial composition and the immune response in orally infected pigs presenting different Salmonella shedding patterns. Our data show that the proinflammatory response induced by Typhimurium at 1 dpi could be responsible for the modification of the fecal microbiota composition and functions observed mainly at 2 and 3 dpi and to the low and super shedder phenotypes.