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Strate­gies to escape viral infec­tion in archaea

Zaloa Aguirre – Hector RCD Awardee Tessa Quax

Viruses are the most abundant biolog­i­cal entities on Earth. Although they infect members of the three domains of life, little is known about the infec­tion mecha­nisms of archaeal viruses. The aim of this research is to gain insight into the inter­ac­tion between halophilic archaeal cells and their viruses by using a combi­na­tion of light and electron microscopy with molec­u­lar biology and virolog­i­cal techniques.

Viruses are the most abundant biolog­i­cal entities on earth, and it is estimated that they outnum­ber their hosts by at least an order of magni­tude. Their hosts include members of the three domains of life: archaea, bacte­ria and eukary­otes and viruses are thus believed to be a major driver of evolu­tion. Archaea are ubiqui­tous microor­gan­isms that inhabit a wide array of environ­ments ranging from extreme habitats such as hot springs, to moder­ate ones such as the oceans or the human diges­tive tract. Viruses infect­ing archaea display a high morpho­log­i­cal and genetic diver­sity. However, little is known about their infec­tion mecha­nisms and how archaeal cells can escape viral infection.

By combin­ing light and electron microscopy with molec­u­lar biology and virolog­i­cal techniques, this research aims to gain insight into the inter­ac­tion between archaea and their viruses. This will signif­i­cantly advance our under­stand­ing of the evolu­tion­ary pressure that viruses exert on the archaeal cell surface. More specif­i­cally, this project focuses on viruses of halophilic archaea and aims to decipher the role of surface appendages in strate­gies to escape viral infection.

Strategien zum Entkommen vor viralen Infektionen in Archaeen

Diagram showing virus-host inter­ac­tions at the archaeal cell surface. Viruses with differ­ent
morpholo­gies inter­act with differ­ent filamen­tous struc­tures at the surface.

Zaloa Aguirre

Univer­sity of Freiburg
   

Super­vised by

Hector RCD Awardee Jun.-Prof. Dr.

Tessa Quax

Biology

Disziplinen Dr. Tessa QuaxHector RCD Awardee since 2020