Paper by Zaloa Aguirre and Tessa Quax published in the journal Viruses
Microbial viruses are widespread and able to infect members of all domains of life (archaea, bacteria, eukarya). Archaea are ubiquitous microorganisms that can be found in extreme environments, such as salt lakes as well as in mesophilic surroundings such as the oceans and the human body. However, little is known about viruses infecting archaea and the mechanisms that determine their host interactions are poorly understood. The study of the virus–host relationships and infection mechanisms of archaeal viruses would greatly benefit from the availability of genetically accessible virus–host models, for which molecular biology tools are available.
In recent years, the archaea Haloferax has become increasingly popular in the scientific community, and is analyzed with an euryarchaeal model for which the most advanced tools for genetic engineering, imaging, and molecular biology are available. The goal of the researchers working with Zaloa Aguirre, a doctoral researcher in the Hector Fellow Academy, was to identify viruses that infect Haloferax strains. For this purpose, the infectivity of Haloarchaea virus isolates on Haloferax strains was tested.
By applying comparative genomics, the researchers in the group of Tessa Quax, Hector Research Career Development Awardee, were able to elucidate the factors that determine the host range of haloarchaeal viruses on Haloferax. The study represents a starting point in the study of haloarchaeal virus–host interactions.
Congratulations Zaloa Aguirre and Tessa Quax!