We hypothesize that: (i) viral diversity and cross-species transmission will increase with species diversity on multi-species farms, (ii) the presence of both wildlife and livestock species on a farm will be associated with increased viral diversity, and (iii) the diversity of viruses with zoonotic potential will increase with species diversity on multi-species farms.
To test these hypotheses, we will access a unique sample set from farms in the Central Highlands of Viet Nam, where a variety of wildlife (e.g., deer, bamboo rats, civets, wild boars, rabbits, and porcupines) and domestic species (e.g., chickens, ducks, cats, pigs, goats) have been farmed both together and separately. Multi-species farms create new interfaces between wildlife, domestic animals, and people that may provide opportunities for cross-species transmission of viruses to occur.
- Estimate the frequency of viral sharing between animals of different species under multi-and single-species farming conditions and identify ‘risky’ viruses that commonly cross the species barrier.
- Identify environmental and ecological factors associated with variations in viral prevalence, diversity, or rates of cross-species transmission of ‘risky’ viruses.
- Identify farm management policies and practices to increase awareness and reduce the risk of cross-species transmission of viruses associated with multi-species farms.
- Characterise the viral diversity in samples from animals housed on single and multi-species farms using a combination of metagenomics and PCR-based screening.
- Identify viruses with known or predicted zoonotic potential using ecological and phylogenetic methods. Estimate these viruses’ distribution, prevalence and relatedness across animal species and farms.
- In collaboration with the public engagement department at OUCRU, engage in a two-way dialogue with the farming community and government stakeholders in the Central Highlands about potential disease risks associated with wildlife and multi-species farming.