© Hector Fellow Academy
21. June 2022
New publi­ca­tion by Zaloa Aguirre

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!