Rabbit calicivirus team (CSIRO)
We are a fun and dynamic group whose research focuses on understanding the biology, evolution, epidemiology, and ecology of rabbit caliciviruses and other rabbit pathogens in Australia. Rabbit caliciviruses are of considerable importance in Australia where they are used to manage wild rabbits, one of Australia’s most invasive vertebrate pests that threaten over 300 native plant and animal species and cost Australian agriculture over $200 million annually. Sadly, rabbit caliciviruses, like many other caliciviruses, do not replicate in conventional 2D cell culture systems, so research into these viruses has been challenging.
Our areas of interest include:
- Developing rabbit organoid systems for growing and studying rabbit caliciviruses ex vivo.
- Diagnostics and surveillance of rabbit caliciviruses and myxoma virus in Australia: understanding which viruses are active, when and where in Australia and how they interact with each other. We are also continuing to develop improved diagnostic tests (ELISA, Luminex, and RT-qPCR) for differential diagnosis of the increasing number of variants found in Australia.
- Exploring how rabbit caliciviruses are evolving over time using genomic epidemiology and phylogenetics.
- Understanding the fundamental biology of rabbit caliciviruses, how viral proteins interact with cellular proteins, and how host cells respond to infection.
- Understanding how RHDV2 infection differs from RHDV1 infection, looking at disease progression and welfare impacts.
- Searching for new and unrecognised viruses of rabbits and hares in Australia, which may be important as zoonotic pathogens (posing a risk to people), as future potential biocontrol agents, or may interfere with existing biocontrol viruses.