Title: Research Assistant Professor, PI of Wildlife and Aquatic Veterinary Disease Laboratory
College: Veterinary Medicine
Deparmtent: Infectious Diseases and Immunology
Research interests: Discovery and characterization of novel viruses in aquatic and terrestrial wildlife hosts using metagenomics; phylogenomics of wildlife viruses; development of diagnostics tests to detect newly emerged/identified wildlife viruses
Curriculum vitae: PDF
Hobbies: Scuba diving, hiking, volleyball, badminton
Kuttichantran Subramaniam, Ph.D., is the principal investigator of the Wildlife and Aquatic Veterinary Disease Laboratory, which is in the Aquatic Pathobiology Laboratory adjacent to, and part of, the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute. His research traditionally focuses upon aquatic virology but has expanded in recent years to include emerging pathogens (e.g., viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi) negatively impacting global aquaculture/livestock, fisheries, and wildlife. His goals are to 1) detect and characterize novel viruses, 2) analyze the viral phylogenomics to understand where it came from and what it is related to, and 3) develop new diagnostic tests for detecting recently emerged viruses.
Subramaniam employ classical and cutting-edge research techniques to detect and characterize pathogens, including in vitro (e.g., cell culture) and in vivo (e.g., infectivity trials) methods, histopathology (e.g., in situ hybridization), electron microscopy, and a wide variety of molecular techniques. He utilizes molecular strategies ranging from PCR/Sanger sequencing to metagenomics and Next Generation Sequencing approaches. “In our lab, we first test the wildlife for known pathogens. If the tests are negative, we then use next generation sequencing to detect new pathogens,” Subramaniam said. The resulting genomic data is then mined for phylogenetic and epidemiologic markers to allow researchers, veterinarians, state, and federal agencies to better understand, track, and mitigate the impact of these pathogens.
For example, in 2021 his team was involved in a collaborative investigation with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, UF-CVM Aquatic Amphibian and Reptile Pathology Program, Office of Protected Resources (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries), and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and identified a new virus in a softshell turtle. The discovery was all the more unusual due to the fact that when comparing the new genome to a viral database, it was not found to be similar to any other known virus. Other recent collaborative investigation work with Florida wildlife includes manatees, Florida panthers, and wild hogs.
Last, Subramaniam’s team also creates molecular diagnostic tests to detect new viruses once they have been identified. Most recently, he worked with others to create a new PCR-based test for tilapia lake virus. This is a pathogen that affects tilapia grown in aquaculture environments and the US Department of Agriculture needed a diagnostic to be able to test for its presence in surveillance activities.
Subramaniam earned his doctorate in aquatic animal health from University Putra Malaysia. He was then a postdoctoral research associate in virology at the University of Florida until 2016 when he was hired as a research assistant professor.
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