Nardus Mollentze

Nardus Mollentze

Viral ecologist | Postdoc

MRC - University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research

I am a viral ecologist studying the dynamics of cross-species transmission and host shifts. Much of my work takes a comparative approach, aiming to discover generalisable patterns which may help us to anticipate and prepare for future outbreaks of infectious disease. I also often use rabies virus as a model system, given it’s wide host range, frequent cross-species transmission, and the consequences of these events for public and animal health. As part of my current postdoc with Daniel Streicker I am leading efforts to determine the most appropriate sampling strategies for discovering unknown viral threats, designing methods to triage newly discovered viruses for further study, and developing spatial models to predict rabies spill-over events.


  • Cross-species transmission
  • Host shifts
  • Virus evolution
  • Outbreak forecasting


  • PhD in Ecology and Environmental Biology, 2018

    University of Glasgow

  • MSc in Microbiology, 2013

    University of Pretoria

  • BSc (hons) in Microbiology, 2010

    University of Pretoria

All publications

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Viral Zoonotic Risk Is Homogenous among Taxonomic Orders of Mammalian and Avian Reservoir Hosts

Do some reservoir groups (e.g. bats) produce more zoonotic viruses than others? By cataloguing the accepted reservoirs for 415 viruses associated with mammals and birds, we show that there is currently no evidence for the existance of any such special reservoir groups. Instead, groups containing more reservoir species are associated with more viruses, and proportionally more zoonotic viruses.

Dynamics of viral index infections in novel hosts

Why most cross-species transmissions fail to establish ongoing transmission in the newly infected species remains poorly understood. Examining cross-species inoculations involving rabies, we show that mismatches in virulence which are predictable from host and viral factors make sustained transmission in the novel host less likely. These mechanistic insights help to explain and predict host shift events and highlight meta-analyses of existing experimental inoculation data as a powerful and generalisable approach for understanding the dynamics of index infections in novel species.

Rabies virus

A mini review for Trends in Microbiology‘s “Microbe of the Month” series, describing the transmission cycle of rabies virus in domestic dogs and highlighting the importance of a One Health approach to control and eliminate human rabies deaths.

The role of viral evolution in rabies host shifts and emergence

Despite its ability to infect all mammals, Rabies virus persists in numerous species-specific cycles that rarely sustain transmission …

A Bayesian approach for inferring the dynamics of partially observed endemic infectious diseases from space-time-genetic data

We describe a statistical framework for reconstructing the sequence of transmission events between observed cases of an endemic …

Recent & Upcoming Talks