Áine O'Toole

Áine O'Toole
The University of Edinburgh | UoE · Institute of Evolutionary Biology

Doctor of Philosophy

About

69
Publications
21,496
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6,267
Citations

Publications

Publications (69)
Article
Full-text available
An attractive and long-standing hypothesis regarding the evolution of genes after duplication posits that the duplication event creates new evolutionary possibilities by releasing a copy of the gene from constraint. Apparent support was found in numerous analyses, particularly the observation of higher rates of evolution in duplicated as compared t...
Article
Full-text available
The ongoing pandemic spread of a new human coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is associated with severe pneumonia/disease (COVID-19), has resulted in the generation of tens of thousands of virus genome sequences. The rate of genome generation is unprecedented, yet there is currently no coherent nor accepted scheme for naming the expanding phylogenetic...
Article
Monkeypox virus (MPXV), a zoonotic virus endemic to the African continent, has been reported in 33 non-endemic countries since May 2022. We report an almost complete genome of the first confirmed case of MPXV in Brazil. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing was completed in 18 hours, from DNA extraction to consensus sequence generation.
Article
Full-text available
Three lineages (BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3) of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern predominantly drove South Africa’s fourth COVID-19 wave. We have now identified two new lineages, BA.4 and BA.5, responsible for a fifth wave of infections. The spike proteins of BA.4 and BA.5 are identical, and comparable to BA.2 except for the addition of 69-70del (...
Preprint
The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant of concern (lineage B.1.617.2) in late 2020 resulted in a new wave of infections in many countries across the world, where it often became the dominant lineage in a relatively short amount of time. We here report on a novel genomic surveillance effort in Rwanda in the time period from June to September...
Article
Full-text available
The availability of pathogen sequence data and use of genomic surveillance is rapidly increasing. Genomic tools and classification systems need updating to reflect this. Here, rabies virus is used as an example to showcase the potential value of updated genomic tools to enhance surveillance to better understand epidemiological dynamics and improve...
Preprint
The first SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC) to be designated was lineage B.1.1.7, later labelled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as Alpha. Originating in early Autumn but discovered in December 2020, it spread rapidly and caused large waves of infections worldwide. The Alpha variant is notable for being defined by a long ancestral phylogen...
Article
Full-text available
Background More than 2 million SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences have been generated and shared since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and constitute a vital information source that informs outbreak control, disease surveillance, and public health policy. The Pango dynamic nomenclature is a popular system for classifying and naming genetically-distinct...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Delta variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 has spread globally causing large outbreaks and resurgences of COVID-19 cases. The emergence of Delta in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 Delta genomes from England in combination with 93,64...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Delta variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 has spread globally causing large outbreaks and resurgences of COVID-19 cases. The emergence of Delta in the UK occurred on the background of a heterogeneous landscape of immunity and relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. Here we analyse 52,992 Delta genomes from England in combination with 93,64...
Preprint
Full-text available
The availability of pathogen sequence data and use of genomic surveillance is rapidly increasing. Genomic tools and classification systems need updating to reflect this. Here, rabies virus is used as an example to showcase the potential value of updated genomic tools to enhance surveillance to better understand epidemiological dynamics and improve...
Article
Full-text available
COVID-19 transmission rates are often linked to locally circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2. Here we describe 203 SARS-CoV-2 whole genome sequences analyzed from strains circulating in Rwanda from May 2020 to February 2021. In particular, we report a shift in variant distribution towards the emerging sub-lineage A.23.1 that is currently dominating. F...
Article
Full-text available
Late in 2020, two genetically-distinct clusters of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with mutations of biological concern were reported, one in the United Kingdom and one in South Africa. Using a combination of data from routine surveillance, genomic sequencing and international travel we track the international dispersal...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the causes and consequences of the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants of concern is crucial to pandemic control yet difficult to achieve because they arise in the context of variable human behavior and immunity. We investigated the spatial invasion dynamics of lineage B.1.1.7 by jointly...
Preprint
Full-text available
More than 2 million SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences have been generated and shared since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and constitute a vital information source that informs outbreak control, disease surveillance, and public health policy. The Pango dynamic nomenclature is a popular system for classifying and naming genetically-distinct lineages o...
Article
Full-text available
Here, we report SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance from March 2020 until January 2021 in Uganda, a landlocked East African country with a population of approximately 40 million people. We report 322 full SARS-CoV-2 genomes from 39,424 reported SARS-CoV-2 infections, thus representing 0.8% of the reported cases. Phylogenetic analyses of these sequences...
Article
Full-text available
We present evidence for multiple independent origins of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 viruses sampled from late 2020 and early 2021 in the United Kingdom. Their genomes carry single nucleotide polymorphisms and deletions that are characteristic of the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, but lack the full complement of lineage-defining mutations. Instead, the rema...
Article
Full-text available
The response of the global virus genomics community to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been unprecedented, with significant advances made towards the ‘real-time’ generation and sharing of SARS-CoV-2 genomic data. The rapid growth in virus genome data production has necessitated the development of new analytical methods that can deal with orders of magn...
Article
Full-text available
In response to the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the UK, the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium was formed to rapidly sequence SARS-CoV-2 genomes as part of a national-scale genomic surveillance strategy. The network consists of universities, academic institutes, regional sequencing centres and the four UK Public Health Agencies. We describe...
Preprint
Full-text available
We present evidence for multiple independent origins of recombinant SARS-CoV-2 viruses sampled from late 2020 and early 2021 in the United Kingdom. Their genomes carry single nucleotide polymorphisms and deletions that are characteristic of the B.1.1.7 variant of concern, but lack the full complement of lineage-defining mutations. Instead, the rema...
Article
Full-text available
Late in 2020, two genetically-distinct clusters of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with mutations of biological concern were reported, one in the United Kingdom and one in South Africa. Using a combination of data from routine surveillance, genomic sequencing and international travel we track the international dispersal...
Article
Full-text available
The SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, designated a Variant of Concern 202012/01 (VOC) by Public Health England1, originated in the UK in late Summer to early Autumn 20202. Whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequence data collected from community-based diagnostic testing shows an unprecedentedly rapid expansion of the B.1.1.7 lineage during Autumn 2020, suggesting a...
Preprint
Full-text available
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), responsible for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), is a single-stranded positive-sense ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus that typically undergoes one to two single nucleotide mutations per month. COVID-19 continues to spread globally, with case fatality and test positivity rates often lin...
Article
Full-text available
Background The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 was first identified in December, 2020, in England. We aimed to investigate whether increases in the proportion of infections with this variant are associated with differences in symptoms or disease course, reinfection rates, or transmissibility. Methods We did an ecological study to examine the associatio...
Article
Full-text available
A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-021-00869-0.
Article
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An Addendum to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-021-00872-5.
Article
Full-text available
Falciparum malaria is clinically heterogeneous and the relative contribution of parasite and host in shaping disease severity remains unclear. We explored the interaction between inflammation and parasite variant surface antigen (VSA) expression, asking whether this relationship underpins the variation observed in controlled human malaria infection...
Preprint
Full-text available
Introductory paragraph SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance in Uganda provides an opportunity to provide a focused description of the virus evolution in a small landlocked East African country. Here we show a recent shift in the local epidemic with a newly emerging lineage A.23 evolving into A.23.1 which is now dominating the Uganda cases and has spread...
Article
Full-text available
SARS-CoV-2 can mutate and evade immunity, with consequences for efficacy of emerging vaccines and antibody therapeutics. Herein we demonstrate that the immunodominant SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) receptor binding motif (RBM) is a highly variable region of S, and provide epidemiological, clinical, and molecular characterization of a prevalent, sentinel RBM...
Preprint
Full-text available
The second SARS virus, SARS-CoV-2, emerged in December 2019, and within a month was globally distributed. It was first introduced into Scotland in February 2020 associated with returning travellers and visitors. By March it was circulating in communities across the UK, and to control COVID-19 cases, and prevent overwhelming of the National Health S...
Article
Full-text available
The UK’s COVID-19 epidemic during early 2020 was one of world’s largest and unusually well represented by virus genomic sampling. Here we reveal the fine-scale genetic lineage structure of this epidemic through analysis of 50,887 SARS-CoV-2 genomes, including 26,181 from the UK sampled throughout the country’s first wave of infection. Using large-s...
Article
Full-text available
Global dispersal and increasing frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein variant D614G are suggestive of a selective advantage but may also be due to a random founder effect. We investigate the hypothesis for positive selection of spike D614G in the United Kingdom using more than 25,000 whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequences. Despite the availability o...
Preprint
Full-text available
The SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.7, now designated Variant of Concern 202012/01 (VOC) by Public Health England, originated in the UK in late Summer to early Autumn 2020. We examine epidemiological evidence for this VOC having a transmission advantage from several perspectives. First, whole genome sequence data collected from community-based diagnostic...
Article
Full-text available
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first diagnosed in Scotland on 1 March 2020. During the first month of the outbreak, 2,641 cases of COVID-19 led to 1,832 hospital admissions, 207 intensive care admissions and 126 deaths. We aimed to identify the source and number of introductions of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-...
Preprint
Full-text available
SARS-CoV-2 can mutate to evade immunity, with consequences for the efficacy of emerging vaccines and antibody therapeutics. Herein we demonstrate that the immunodominant SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) receptor binding motif (RBM) is the most divergent region of S, and provide epidemiological, clinical, and molecular characterization of a prevalent RBM varian...
Article
Full-text available
SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) is a novel virus of the family Coronaviridae. The virus causes the infectious disease COVID-19. The biology of coronaviruses has been studied for many years. However, bioinformatics tools designed explicitly for SARS-CoV-2 have only recently been developed as a rapid reaction to the need...
Article
Full-text available
Global dispersal and increasing frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein variant D614G are suggestive of a selective advantage but may also be due to a random founder effect. We investigate the hypothesis for positive selection of spike D614G in the United Kingdom using more than 25,000 whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequences. Despite the availability o...
Preprint
Full-text available
The UK’s COVID-19 epidemic during early 2020 was one of world’s largest and unusually well represented by virus genomic sampling. Here we reveal the fine-scale genetic lineage structure of this epidemic through analysis of 50,887 SARS-CoV-2 genomes, including 26,181 from the UK sampled throughout the country’s first wave of infection. Using large-s...
Article
Full-text available
Spatiotemporal bias in genome sampling can severely confound discrete trait phylogeographic inference. This has impeded our ability to accurately track the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the availability of unprecedented numbers of SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Here, we present an approach to integrate individu...
Article
Full-text available
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Preprint
Full-text available
Falciparum malaria is clinically heterogeneous and the relative contribution of parasite and host in shaping disease severity remains unclear. We explored the interaction between inflammation and parasite variant surface antigen (VSA) expression, asking whether this relationship underpins the variation observed in controlled human malaria infection...
Article
Full-text available
In late December 2019, a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported linked to a market in Wuhan, China1. The causative agent was identified as the species Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus and was named SARS-CoV-2 (ref. 2). By 16 April the virus had spread to 185 different countries, infected over 2,000,000...
Research
Full-text available
We show the distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) genetic clades over time and between countries and outline potential genomic surveillance objectives. We applied three genomic nomenclature systems to all sequence data from the World Health Organization European Region available until 10 July 2020. We highligh...
Article
Full-text available
We show the distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) genetic clades over time and between countries and outline potential genomic surveillance objectives. We applied three genomic nomenclature systems to all sequence data from the World Health Organization European Region available until 10 July 2020. We highligh...
Article
Full-text available
We show the distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) genetic clades over time and between countries and outline potential genomic surveillance objectives. We applied three genomic nomenclature systems to all sequence data from the World Health Organization European Region available until 10 July 2020. We highligh...
Article
The WHO European Region sequencing laboratories and GISAID EpiCoV group*: Niko Beerenwinkel, Susana Posada-Céspedes, Kim Philipp Jablonski, Pedro Falé Ferreira, Ivan Topolsky, Tatjana Avšič-Županc, Miša Korva, Mario Poljak, Samo Zakotnik, Tomaž Mark Zorec, Karoline Bragstad, Olav Hungnes, Kathrine Stene-Johansen, Chantal Reusken, Adam Meijer, Harry...
Article
We show the distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) genetic clades overtime and between countries and outline potential genomic surveillance objectives. We applied three genomic nomenclature systems to all sequence data from the World Health Organization European Region available until 10 July 2020. We highlight...
Preprint
Full-text available
Global dispersal and increasing frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein variant D614G are suggestive of a selective advantage but may also be due to a random founder effect. We investigate the hypothesis for positive selection of Spike D614G in the United Kingdom using more than 25,000 whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequences. Despite the availability o...
Preprint
The age structure of populations, or the ageing rate of individuals, impacts aspects of ecology, epidemiology and conservation. Yet for many wild organisms, age is an inaccessible trait. In many cases measuring age or ageing rates in the wild requires molecular biomarkers of age. Epigenetic clocks based on DNA methylation have been shown to accurat...
Article
Full-text available
Global poliovirus surveillance involves virus isolation from stool and environmental samples, intratypic differential (ITD) by PCR and sequencing of the VP1 region to distinguish vaccine (Sabin), vaccine-derived and wild-type polioviruses and ensure an appropriate response. This cell-culture algorithm takes 2-3 weeks on average between sample recei...
Article
Full-text available
Background 10 days after the first reported case of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in the Netherlands (on Feb 27, 2020), 55 (4%) of 1497 health-care workers in nine hospitals located in the south of the Netherlands had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. We aimed to gain insight in possible sources of infecti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Spatiotemporal bias in genome sequence sampling can severely confound phylogeographic inference based on discrete trait ancestral reconstruction. This has impeded our ability to accurately track the emergence and spread of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the availability of staggering numbers of genomes...