Companion Animal Infections and Zoonotic Risk

Laura B. Goodman and Michael J. Stanhope, Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, are performing genetic analyses of E. coli and coronavirus strains in companion animals. Using state-of-the-art genome sequencing and analysis, they will evaluate the evolution and adaptation of these microbes to selected host species. Their findings will provide insight on the potential for particular bacterial and viral strains to spread to humans and cause disease.

Escherichia coli is one of the most concerning pathogens for multidrug resistance. In the first part of this two-part project, researchers will analyze the complete genomes of E. coli in dogs. With the resulting data, researchers will elucidate molecular mechanisms by which E. coli develop antibiotic resistance in dogs and will assess the potential for antibiotic-resistant strains to spread to humans.

The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by SARS-CoV-2, is the third major disease outbreak in the past two decades to be caused by an animal coronavirus spreading to humans. Many different types of coronaviruses inhabit mammalian hosts. In the second part of the project, researchers will characterize the diversity of coronaviruses found in horses, cats, and dogs. Using comparative evolutionary genomic analyses, they will provide insights into a wide variety of issues related to how these viruses evolve and the potential for inter-host spread, including the likelihood for particular coronavirus species to jump from these animals to humans.

In addition to evaluating the zoonotic implications of two important potential pathogens, this research aims to train other laboratories to sequence and analyze veterinary bacterial and viral genomes, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

FDA Grant Number: 1U18FD006993-01

Cornell Researchers

Funding Received

$983 Thousand spanning 5 years