Michael Gallagher

PhD Project: New approaches to characterise viral diseases in Atlantic salmon



Dr Iveta Matejusova. Marine Scotland Science. Expert in virology and fish viral diseases.

Postgraduate research

My PhD project is a BBSRC funded EASTBIO studentship and partnered with Marine Science Scotland. My work is focused on RNA viruses that infect finfish in aquaculture – particularly pathogens of salmonids (e.g. ISAV and SAV). I am using second-generation (Illumina) and third-generation (Nanopore) sequencing to generate whole genome sequences for these viruses, with the goal to develop faster and more efficient approaches to characterise viral diseases in fish. I will use these genomes in phylogenetic and molecular evolutionary studies to model the population dynamics of target viruses and characterize viral evolution linked to different outbreaks and transmission routes. In addition, a goal of my project is to improve our ability to rapidly and effectively diagnose viral infections in fish farms.  

Biography and previous work

​I was awarded a 1st class MSci in Biological Sciences here at the University of Aberdeen. During this time, I did Honours and Masters research projects within the Macqueen group, where I also undertook a 10-week research placement funded by the BBSRC EASTBIO scheme. These projects are where my interest in genomics and molecular biology first developed. In my undergraduate research, I investigated the non-blood globin genes of fish using phylogenetic, comparative genomic and gene expression analyses. Globin genes encode oxygen-binding haemproteins that are functionally central to oxygen transport systems in many animals. My work on globins was recently published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.


Gallagher MD, Matejusova I, Nguyen L, Ruane NM, Falk K, Macqueen DJ. 2018. Nanopore sequencing for rapid diagnostics of salmonid RNA viruses. Sci. Rep. 8, Article number: 16307. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-34464-x

Gallagher MD, Macqueen DJ. 2017. Evolution and Expression of Tissue Globins in Ray-Finned Fishes. Genome Biol Evol. 9:32-47. DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evw266

Conference presentations and talks:​

PD TriNation 2018, Bergen 13th March - 15th March 2018. 'Rapid whole-genome sequencing of SAV using the MinION platform'. (Oral presentation). 

Genome 10K and Genome Science Conference 2017, Norwich 29th August - 1st September 2017. 'Genome 10K and Genome Science Conference 2017'. (Poster presentation). Won best microbiology poster prize.

Invited speaker at BBSRC GCRF-IAA funded workshop entitled “Tackling the impact of zoonotic diseases with interdisciplinary research”, 29th March 2017. 'Applications of third-generation Nanopore sequencing'

SEB Annual Meeting 2015, Prague 29th June – 3rd July 2015. ‘Comparative analysis of globin family gene expression in teleost fish’. (Poster presentation). Awarded SEB Presenter Travel Grant (£240) and Company of Biologists Travel Grant (£270). 

From: Gallagher MD, Macqueen DJ. 2017. Evolution and Expression of Tissue Globins in Ray-Finned Fishes. Genome Biol Evol. 9:32-47.