Yan Boucher Microbiologist
Infectious diseases with complex life cycles or environmental reservoirs are extremely difficult to eradicate. Understanding their evolution (how new variants emerge) and ecology (where they originate and replicate) is therefore key to controlling them. Yan Boucher’s goal is to change the way we approach infectious diseases, from a perspective of intervention to one of prevention. This is now possible using modern molecular microbial ecology approaches to monitor populations of human pathogens, both in their host and in the environment. His focus is on Cholera, an ancient and often-fatal diarrheal disease with a complex ecology, which still affects 1.4 to 4.3 million people a year, causing between 28,000 to 142,000 deaths. Its causative agent is Vibrio cholerae, a bacterium with aquatic environmental reservoirs. New variants emerge constantly and have so far spread worldwide in three separate waves. We now know that cholera is constantly evolving in its endemic home, the Bay of Bengal, which is the ultimate source of all waves of the current pandemic. He believes that understanding the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of cholera in its natural home will not only save lives locally, but also prevent of its spread abroad.
Y. Boucher et al, "The Out-of-the-Delta Hypothesis: dense human populations in low-lying river deltas served as agents for the evolution of a deadly pathogen," Front. Microbiol. vol. 6, pp. 1120, 2015.
F. D. Orata et al, "Dynamics of genetic interactions between Vibrio cholerae and its closest relative, Vibrio metoecus," Genome Bio. Evol. pp. 1-14, 2015.
F. D. Orata et al, "The 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti: how science solved a controversy," PLoS Pathogens., vol. 10, no. 4, pp. e1003967, 2014.
P. C. Kirchberger et al, " Vibrio metoecus sp.nov., a close relative of Vibrio cholerae isolated from coastal brackish ponds and clinical specimens," IJSEM, vol. 64, pp. 3208-3214, 2014.
L.S. Katz et al, "Evolutionary dynamics of Vibrio cholerae O1 following a single source introduction to Haiti," mBio, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. e00398-13, 2013.
Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity
University of AlbertaDepartment of Biological Sciences
PhD (Molecular Evolution) Dalhousie University
BSc (Biochemistry) Université Laval
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