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
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.
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.