Dr Gavin Horsburgh

School of Biosciences

Facility Assistant

NEOF - Dr Gavin Horsburgh
Profile picture of NEOF - Dr Gavin Horsburgh
+44 114 222 0115

Full contact details

Dr Gavin Horsburgh
School of Biosciences
Alfred Denny Building
Western Bank
S10 2TN

My role involves knowledge exchange. I provide in-lab training and support of visitors funded by the NERC Environmental Omics Facility (NEOF).

Teaching a wide range of techniques including metabarcoding, ddRAD, SNP typing, microsatellite genotyping and sex typing.

I support many studies involving next-generation sequencing. Examples of the projects supported including studying diet using DNA extracted from faecal samples and investigating species diversity present in environmental DNA samples, such as soil and water. I also support the application of sets of genetic markers for use in studies of population genetics and behavioural ecology.

We are continually developing methodologies to keep our support and training and the facility at the cutting edge.

  • 2005 to present: Research Associate, NERC Environmental Omics Visitor Facility (formerly the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility - Sheffield, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield.)
  • 2001 to 2005: Research Associate, Division of Genomic Medicine, Medical School, University of Sheffield.
  • 1997 to 2001: PhD, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield.
  • 1993 to 1997: BSc Hons. Medical Microbiology, University of Edinburgh.
Research interests

I support many different types of studies and these require a wide range of techniques: 

Metabarcoding - Many of the projects I support involve next generation sequencing including studies of diet,  biodiversity in environmental DNA, studies of bacterial communities and parasites.

Diet Studies - During 2019-20, I will support studies of the nightjar, pygmy shrew and comparing the hedgehog and the badger diet. 

Pollination Studies - During 2020, several pollination studies will be supported involving pollen transferred by bats and hoverflies.

Biodiversity, health and agriculture - During 2019, I supported a project to study fish communities from water samples taken from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. We are supporting a project studying the composition of bacterial communities in drinking water, a study of earthworm diversity investigating worm importance in agriculture and a study investigating the communities found in the pouches of carnivorous pitcher plants.

Genotyping - I support studies using SNPs, ddRAD and multiplex microsatellite marker sets to study mating systems, genetic diversity and population structure. I am currently supporting studies of the pine marten, monk parakeet, red mason bee and Eastern black rhino.

Sequencing - Studies of MHC variation and meiotic drive are also being supported in the Facility involving Asian elephants and Stalk-eyed flies. 

Development of new markers - In 2019, microsatellite-enriched libraries will be constructed for species of Hylid frog, golden wolf and snow leopard. We have isolated microsatellite and SNP markers for over 70 species. We use high-throughput sequencing on a MiSeq sequencer which enables us to isolate high numbers of microsatellite sequences that then allows the selection of optimal sequences for marker design. It is also possible to mine microsatellites from genome assemblies and other sequence resources. For high-throughput, when required microsatellites can be analysed on the MiSeq.

Genetic sex-typing of birds - 50% of birds are sexually monomorphic so sexing would require using genetic markers. Several projects involving genetic bird sex-typing are supported throughout the year. For more information go to the bird sex-typing webpage.

Research & Development - We have optimised the metabarcoding, DNA typing and sequencing methods used at the Facility (see Publications).


Journal articles