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WIRTH Thierry

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Directeur d’Etudes à l’Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Sorbonne Universités
Equipe Biologie intégrative des populations, Evolution moléculaire (BIPEM)
16 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris
Tel : + 33 (0)1 40 79 80 36
email :

 Research :

Evolutionary History and Origin of Major Human Diseases
I am characterizing and measuring the processes that determine bacterial populations, in particular the evolution of sex and virulence in Escherichia coli. I am also investigating the coalescent and origin of major human disease agents (Yersinia pestis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis). Another line of research is the use of bacterial genetics for tracking the population genetics of their hosts or symbionts (i.e. Helicobacter pylori as a marker for human migrations).

Coevolution of Lassa Virus and its Rat Reservoir
Lassa virus (LASV), a biosafety level 4 agent is an endemic hemorrhagic fever virus of West Africa which causes up to 100.000 cases of Lassa fever (LF) and occurs sporadically in outbreaks with high mortality. We investigated concomitantly the population structure, evolution and demography of LASV and its natural reservoir, the rat Mastomys natalensis. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of an impact of conflict situations on the phylogeography and demography of a virus, which is the cause of an emerging infectious disease.

The Evolution and Spread of the Leishmania donovani Complex
In the New World, Leishmania infantum (syn. L. chagasi) is the principal causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis. There are two contradictory hypotheses about its origin : (1) the recent import of L. infantum from the Old World and synonymy of L. chagasi and L. infantum or (2) an indigenous origin of the parasite and a distinct taxonomic rank for the New World parasite. We are currently investigating the evolutionary history, origin and spread of this parasite using Bayesian statistics and a global collection of strains.

Atlantic Eels Population Genetics and Host-Parasite Coevolution
Research being performed in the group related to the population structure of the endangered Atlantic eels. We recently investigated the population structure of an invasive parasite, the nematode Anguillicola crassus that came from Asia to Europe some 30 years ago. The molecular coevolution of the pathogens and the host at the Major Histocompatibility Class II genes. A primary aim of this research is to understand short term adaptation to major selective pressure and the detrimental effects of exotic parasites on naive host populations.

 Publications :

Genetic signatures in an invasive parasite of Anguilla anguilla correlate with differential stock management.
Wielgoss S., Hollandt F., Wirth T., and ; Meyer A. (2010)
Journal of Fish Biology, 77, 191–210.

A timescale for evolution, population expansion and spatial spread of an emerging clone of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Nübel U, Dordel J, Kurt K, Strommenger B, Westh H, Shukla SK, Zemlickova H, Leblois R, Wirth T., Jombart T, Balloux F and ;
Witte W (2010)
PloS Pathogens 6, e1000855.

Pleistocene desiccation in East Africa bottlenecked but did not extirpate the adaptive radiation of Lake Victoria haplochromine cichlid fishes.
Elmer KR, Reggio C, Wirth T, Verheyen E, Salzburger W and Meyer A (2009)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106, 13404 -13409.

Origin, spread and demography of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.
Wirth T, Hildebrand F, Allix-Béguec C, Wölbeling F, Kubica T, Kremer K, van Soolingen D, Rüsch-Gerdes S, Locht C, Brisse S, Meyer A, Supply P and ; Niemann S (2008)
PloS Pathogens 4, e1000160.

A new perspective on Listeria monocytogenes evolution.
Ragon M, Wirth T, Hollandt F, Lavenir R, Lecuit M, Le Monnier A and Brisse S (2008)
PloS Pathogens 4, e1000146.

Identification of geographically distributed sub-populations of Leishmania (Leishmania) major by microsatellite analysis.
Al-Jawabreh A, Diezmann S, Müller M, Wirth T, Schnur LF, Strelkova MV, Kovalenko DA, Razakov SA, Schwenkenbecher J, Kuhls K and Schönian G (2008)
BMC Evolutionary Biology 8, 183.

Population structure of the parasitic nematode Anguillicola crassus, an invader of declining North-Atlantic eel stocks.
Wielgoss S, Taraschewski H, Meyer A and Wirth T (2008)
Molecular Ecology 17, 3478-3495.

Isolation and characterization of 12 dinucleotide microsatellites in the European eel, Anguilla anguilla L., and tests of amplification in other species of eels.
Wielgoss S, Wirth T and Meyer A (2008)
Molecular Ecology Resources 8, 1382-1385.

The rise and spread of a new pathogen : seroresistant Moraxella catarrhalis
Wirth T, Morelli G, Kusecek B, van Belkum A, van der Schee C, Meyer A & Achtman M (2007)
Genome Research 17, 1647 -1656.

Isolation and characterization of short tandem repeats (STR) in an invasive
swimbladder nematode, parasitic in Atlantic freshwater eels.
Wielgoss S, Sanetra M, Meyer A and Wirth T (2007)
Molecular Ecology Notes 7, 1051 - 1053.

Genetic diversity of the obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydophila pneumoniae by genome-wide analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms : evidence for highly clonal population structure.
Rattei T, Ott S, Gutacker M, Rupp J, Maass M, Schreiber S,
Solback W, Wirth T., and Gieffers J (2007)
BMC Genomics8, 355 - 361.

Sex and virulence in Escherichia coli : an evolutionary perspective
Wirth T, Falush D, Lan R, Colles F, Mensa P, Wieler L, Karch H, Reeves P, Maiden P, Ochman H and Achtman M (2006)
Molecular Microbiology 60, 1136 - 1151.

Population genetics of microbial pathogens estimated from multilocus sequence typing (MLST) data
Perez-Losada M, Browne EB, Madsen A, Wirth T, Viscidi RP and Krandall KA (2006)
Infection, Genetics and Evolution 6, 97 - 112.

Deciphering host migrations and origins by means of their microbes.
Wirth T, Meyer A and Achtman M (2005)
Molecular Ecology 14, 3289 - 3306.

Using gene-history and expression analyses to assess the involement of LGI genes un human disorders
Gu W, Gibert Y, Wirth T, Elischer A, Bloch W, Meyer A, Steinlein OK & Begemann G (2005)
Molecular Biology and Evolution 22, 2209 - 2216.

Microsatellite analysis reveals genetic structure of Leishmania tropica
Schwenckenbecher JM, Wirth T, Schnur LF, Jaffe CH, Schallig H, Al-Jawabreh A, Hamarsheh O, Azmi K, Pratlong F and
Schöenian G (2005)
International Journal for Parasitology 36, 237 - 246.

Applying expression and evolutionary analysis to predict genes related to human diseases
Gu W, Gibert Y, Wirth T, Elischer A, Bloch W, Meyer A,
Steinlein OK & Begemann G (2005)
FASEB Journal 19, A1510.

Microevolution and history of the plague bacillus, Yersinia pestis
Achtman M, Morelli G, Zhu P, Wirth T, Diehl I, Kusecek B, Vogler AJ, Wagner DM, Allender CJ, Easterday WR, Chenal-Francisque V, Worsham P, Thomson NR, Parkhill J, Lindler LE, Carniel E and Keim P (2004)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 5, 17837 - 17842.

Distinguishing human ethnic groups by means of sequences from Helicobacter pylori : Lessons from Ladakh.
Wirth T, Wang X, Linz B, Novick RP, Lum JK, Blaser M,
Morelli G, Falush D and Achtman M (2004)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 101, 17837-17842.

Decline of North-Atlantic eels : a fatal synergy ?
Wirth T and Bernatchez L (2003)
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series B 270, 681 - 688.

Traces of human migration in Helicobacter pylori
Falush D, Wirth T, Linz B, Pritchard JK, Stephens M, Kidd M, Blaser M, Graham DY, Vacher S, Perez-Perez GI, Yamaoka Y, Mégraud F, Otto K, Reichard U, Katzowitsch E, Wang X & Achtman M (2003)
Science 299, 1582 - 1585.

Mitochondrial differentiation in a polymorphic landsnail : evidence for a Pleistocene survival within the boundaries of permafrost.
Haase M, Misof B, Wirth T, Baminger H and Baur B (2003)

Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16, 415 - 428.

Clonal grouping in serogroup X Neisseria meningitidis
Gagneux S, Wirth T, Hodgson A, Ehrhard I, Morelli G, Kriz P, Genton B, Smith T, Binka F, Pluschke G and Achtman M (2002)
Emerging Infectious Diseases 8, 462 - 466.

Prospective study of a serogroup X Neisseria meningitidis outbreak in Northern Ghana.
Gagneux S, Hodgson A, Smith TA, Wirth T, Ehrhard I, Morelli G, Genton B, Binka FN, Achtman M and Pluschke (2002)
Journal of Infectious Diseases 185, 618 - 626.

Genetic evidence against panmixia in the European eel.
Wirth T and Bernatchez L (2001)
Nature 409, 1037 -1040.

Isolation and characterization of variable microsatellite markers in the land snail Helicella itala, and cross species amplification within the family
Wirth T (2000)
Molecular Ecology 9, 501 - 502.

Isolation and characterization of variable microsatellite markers in the yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and cross species amplification within the family
Leclerc D, Wirth T and Bernatchez L (2000)
Molecular Ecology 9, 995 - 997.

Genetic variability in subpopulations of the asp viper (Vipera aspis) in the Swiss Jura mountains : implications for a conservation strategy.
Jäggi C, Wirth T and Baur B (2000)
Biological conservation 94, 69 - 77.

Directional substitution and evolution of nucleotide content in the cytochrome oxidase II in earwigs (Dermapteran insects).
Wirth T, Leguellec R and Veuille M (1999)
Molecular Biology and Evolution 16, 1645 - 1653.

Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in the walleye (Stizostidion vitreum), and cross species amplification within the family Percidae.
Wirth T, Saint-Laurent R & Bernatchez L (1999)
Molecular Ecology 8, 1961 - 1963.

Effect of road width on dispersal and population genetic structure in the land snail Helicella itala
Wirth T, Oggier P and Baur B (1999)
Journal of Nature Conservation 8, 23 - 29.

Molecular and reproductive characterization of two sibling species in the European earwig.
Wirth T, Leguellec R, Vancassel M & Veuille M (1998)
Evolution 52, 260 - 265.

Mating system and genetic variability in the simultaneously hermaphroditic terrestrial gastropod,
Balea perversa on the Baltic island of Öland, Sweden.
Wirth T, Baur A, and Baur B
Hereditas (1997) 126, 199 - 209.

 Enseignement :

UE "Pathology, Microbes and Evolution", 38h
Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon (ENSL)
Level : Master Biosciences
Description : This lecture covers different fields of modern bacteriology and molecular epidemiolgy. Different scientists present their vision in a large spectrum of disciplines.
They include bacterial population genetics and genomics, sex and virulence, emerging infectious diseases, modelisation, experimental evolution and metagenomics.

UE "Evolutionary Microbiology and Genomics", 30h
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
Level : Master and Diploma
Description :This is a one week course on advanced bacterial genetics and genomics. The students will be introduced in the field of molecular epidemiology and in modeling of epidemic diseases spread. During the course, we will also study the positive correlation between homologous recombination in bacteria and pathogenicity. Experimental evolution, medical metagenomics and bugs as tracers of human migrations will be treated as well...

UE "Advanced Population Genetics and Evolutionary Genomics", 30h
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
Level : Master and Diploma
Description :This is another one week course that corresponds to an advanced population genetics ans genomics course. The students will go through different statistical and theoretical tools that will be later applied on biological models (Coalescence, Bayesian statistics, ABC, sophisticated phylogenetics and demogenetics). This course combines theory and bioinformatics sesssions where real data will be extensively analysed (two full days).

UE "Phylogenetics", 3h
Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Level : Master and Diploma
Description : Two short lectures which illustrate the importance of detecting and purging recombination events from molecular data (sequences) pior to phylogenetic reconstructions ...

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