Dichelobacter nodosus metapopulations and the epidemiology of footrot in an endemically infected flock

Project lead: Professor Laura Green

Project contacts:

Footrot accounts for 90% of lameness in sheep in the UK costing between £24 and £80 million per annum. The main causative agent is Dichelobacter nodosus. A number of virulence factors have been identified in D. nodosus but their association with virulence has varied in both their role and the certainty of their contribution towards virulence. To investigate this, I am using foot swabs from Smith et al., 2014 who studied 99 sheep on one farm over 10 months. I am using quantitative PCR to detect D. nodosus which I will compare with data from cultured D. nodosus isolates obtained from the previous study (Smith et al., 2014). This is to test the hypothesis that investigation of the whole community of D. nodosus will elucidate the role of virulence factors in disease severity in an endemic situation. I am getting the whole genome of D. nodosus isolates from around the UK and worldwide sequenced to investigate disease transmission and the virulence factors of D. nodosus and also look into geographical patterns. This will help to gain a better understanding of the D. nodosus community and virulence factors and their roles in the pathogenesis of footrot.

This project is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Warwick.

Research objectives

The aims for this project are to investigate the D. nodosus strain community and the virulence factors of D. nodosus to discover how both of these link with the severity of footrot observed on the feet of sheep.

Outputs and impact


  • ISVEE 2018
  • MedVet Pathogens 2018
  • BSAS 2018
  • SVEPM 2017
  • Frequent engagement with farmers and vets as part of knowledge exchange.

Research Team

Partner organisations and sponsors

  • BBSRC Case Studentship
  • Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
  • Innovate UK (Knowledge Transfer Network)