Yan Boucher

Associate Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences

Contact

Associate Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
Email
yboucher@ualberta.ca
Phone
(780) 248-1180 Ext: 780
Address
G-511A Bio Science - Genetics Wing
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9

Overview

Research
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. My goal is to change to 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. My 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. I believe 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.

Courses

BIOL 322 - Diversity and Evolution of Microbial Life

The diversity of microscopic life forms, both prokaryotic (bacteria and archaea) and eukaryotic (protists, fungi, phytoplankton), will be explored. The evolutionary forces responsible for this diversity will be described in detail and contrasted to those at work in macroscopic eukaryotes. Students will learn about the molecular methods used to identify and classify both culturable and non-culturable microbes, and genetically characterize entire populations. Prerequisites: BIOL 107 and 108 or SCI 100, and a 200-level Biological Sciences course. MICRB 265 recommended.

Fall Term 2020

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