Specialist Subjects: invertebrate immunology
Professor Norman Ratcliffe is Professor of Zoology. He graduated from Swansea in 1964 and obtain his PhD (1967) and DSc (1985) from the same institute. He subsequently was appointed as a CRC Research Fellow (1967-69) and a University of Birmingham Research Fellow (1969- 70). His PhD was concerned with insect physiology whilst his postdoctoral fellowships involved an entirely new field in mammalian innate immunity to cancer cells (Williams and Ratcliffe, Nature, 222, 893-895,1969; Pickaver et al. Nature, 235, 186-187,1971). In 1971, he was appointed to a permanent lectureship in the Department of Zoology at the University of Leicester but chose to return to Swansea the following year in order to develop his present research interests. In 1992-3, he was awarded a Senior CNPq Research Fellowship at the Oswaldo Cruz Research Institute (Fiocruz), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to work with the president of Fiocruz, Dr.Eloi Garcia. He maintains strong research links with Dr.Garcia's team which involves regular exchanges of personnel with Fiocruz.
Professor Ratcliffe's research is focused on the immune system of invertebrates. In particular, he is interested in three research areas:
1) Basic mechanisms of recognition of non-self, such as parasites and pathogens, by invertebrates with emphasis on insects and the roles of haemolymph (blood) lectins and other immune factors, many of which may well have similarity to the acute phase proteins of mammals.
2) The immune defence mechanisms of vector insects and the isolation and characterisation of molecules responsible for the survival, multiplication and development of important parasites of humans such as Trypanosoma cruzi. This work is undertaken with Dr.Garcia's colleagues at Fiocruz.
3) The development of bioassays based on the immune systems of marine invertebrates, such as the mussel, Mytilus edulis, for detecting the presence and effects of environmental pollution. Recent work not only is concerned with adult animals but also larval forms which may well be more sensitive indicators. This work is in collaboration with Professor Mike Moore and Dr.Richard Pipe at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, U.K.
Over 25 students have successfully completed their doctorates under Professor Ratcliffe's supervision.
Wootton EC, Dyrynda EA, Ratcliffe N.A. (2006). Interaction between non-specific electrostatic forces and humoral factors in haemocyte attachment and encapsulation in the edible cockle, Cerastoderma edule. J. Exp. Biol. 209 (7): 1326-1335.
Azambuja P, Garcia ES, Ratcliffe N.A. (2005). Gut microbiota and parasite transmission by insect vectors. Trends in Parasitology 21 (12): 568-572
Bexfield, A., Nigam, Y., Thomas, S. and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2004). Detection and partial characterisation of two antibacterial factors from the excretions/secretions of the medicinal maggot Lucilia sericata and their activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Microbes Infection 6, 1297-1304.
Whitten, M.M.A., Tew, I.F., Lee, B.L. and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2004). A novel role for an insect apolipoprotein (Apolipophorin III) in beta-1,3-glucan pattern recognition and cellular encapsulation reactions. J. Immunol.,172, 2177-2185.
Wootton, E.C., Dyrynda, E.A., and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2003). Bivalve immunity: comparisons between the marine mussel (Mytilus edulis), the edible cockle (Cerastoderma edule) and the razor shell (Ensis siliqua). Fish Shellfish Immunol., 15, 195-210.
Wootton, E.C., Dyrynda, E.A., and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2003). Comparisons of PAH-induced immunomodulation in three marine bivalves. Aquatic Toxicology 65, 13-25.
Basseri, H.R., Tew, I.F. and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2002) Identification and distribution of carbohydrate moieties on the salivary glands of Rhodnius prolixus and their possible involvement in attachment/invasion by Trypanosoma rangeli. Exp. Parasitol., 100, 226-234.
Choi, J.Y., Whitten, M.M.A., Cho, M.Y., Lee, K.Y., Kim, M.S., Ratcliffe, N.A. and Lee, B.L. (2002). Calreticulin enriched as an early-stage encapsulation protein in the wax month Galleria mellonella larvae: purification and molecular cloning. Dev. Comp. Immunol., 26, 335-343.
Whitten, M.M.A., Mello, C.B., Gomes, S.A.O., Nigam, Y., Azambuja, P., Garcia, E.S. and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2001). Role of superoxide and reactive nitrogen intermediates in Rhodnius prolixus (Reduviidae)/Trypanosoma rangeli interactions. Exp. Parasitol., 98, 44-57.
Wilson, R. and Ratcliffe, N.A. (2000). Effect of lysozyme on the lectin-mediated phagocytosis of Bacillus cereus by the haemocytes of the cockroach, Balberus discoidalis. J. Insect Physiol., 46, 663-670.
Recent & Current Research Funding
CEC 1998-2001: Effects of environmental stressors on antibacterial activity in marine bivalve molluscs.
BBSRC 1998-2001: Functional role of Rhodnius haemolymph lectin in trypanosome development
Action Medical Research 2005- : Novel maggot antibacterial factors