The Scottish Government
SPASE Background Funded Institutes Projects Impact Management Contact


SPASE is organised into three modules:

Module 1 - Genetic determinants of host-pathogen and host-commensal interactions in livestock disease and production consequences

This module explores the impact of genetic variation on the response of livestock hosts to infection, disease intervention and to other environmental factors.

This work will involve studies of the role of host genotype and of microbial genomic variation in determining the nature of host-pathogen interactions in various disease systems and the environmental impacts which may arise. In this context, the role of genetic factors in modulating innate and adaptive immune responses is of particular significance and the knowledge gained will be exploited to improve the design of protective vaccines against these pathogens.

An example of a project within this module is the TickTag study, which is currently investigating endemic and emerging tick-borne pathogens in Scottish livestock.

  Salmon farm in Scotland



Module 2 - Effects of early environment on behaviour, reproduction, disease susceptibility, welfare and product quality of livestock


This module recognises that our farm animals need attributes that differ from those that have previously been the foci, such as maximum productivity.

The animal of the future needs to be resilient, adaptive and have attributes that allow it to cope with future challenges such as climate change and variability, new disease challenges, less human intervention, whilst still being productive. Productivity is heavily influenced by early life impacts which, in addition to nutrition, include exposure to stress, a variety of pathogenic micro- or macro-organisms as well as associated and other painful stimuli. Many of these occur routinely in farmed livestock and will be affected by environmental change associated with on farm management and changes arising from climate change.




Module 3 - A systems biology approach to understanding, predicting and protecting livestock health in different environments

This module addresses the challenge of the need to integrate disparate multidisciplinary sources of information and understanding to address system level questions of critical importance to the sustainability and future competitiveness of the Scottish livestock sector.

The module will develop systems tools for policy foresight, will develop frameworks to examine the role of individual variation in livestock systems, will examine pathogen evolution in response to livestock systems and will evaluate within-animal dynamics which drive individual variation.