The major focus of the Tilston lab is to understand how novel bunyaviruses with distinct pathologies emerge via reassortant. Bunyaviruses are tri-segmented negative-sense RNA viruses that are primarily arthropod-transmitted. Bunyaviruses cause a spectrum of human and veterinary diseases. Lassa hemorrhagic fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever and Rift Valley fever are a few examples of devastating bunyaviral diseases. The segmented nature of the bunyavirus genome allows these viruses to undergo rapid evolution through a process of genome reassortment with other related bunyaviruses. Reassortment is responsible for antigenic shifts in influenza viruses which have been critical for the emergence of pandemic strains. Such effects on bunyaviruses are poorly understood. The goal of the Tilston Lab is to now fill in some of these knowledge gaps.
The main approaches utilized in the laboratory include molecular biology techniques, classical virology, multiplex in situ hybridization, RNA-RNA interaction assays, genomics and in vivo experiments.