University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Talks > “Chemical Arms Race at Sea”: The role of virally-encoded auxiliary metabolic genes in shaping the marine environment

“Chemical Arms Race at Sea”: The role of virally-encoded auxiliary metabolic genes in shaping the marine environment

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Marine viruses that infect marine microorganisms are recognized as major ecological and evolutionary driving forces, shaping community structure and nutrient and energy cycling in the marine environment. Nevertheless, the cellular mechanisms that govern these host-virus dynamics are largely unexplored. Emiliania huxleyi is a globally important coccolithophore forming massive algal blooms in the North Atlantic Ocean that are routinely infected and terminated by large DNA viruses, coccolithoviruses (EhVs). This unique host-pathogen interaction spans more than 12 orders of magnitude, from the individual cell (0.000001 m) to large algal blooms (ca. 1,000,000 m). We therefore aim to bridge this gap by investigating both the intricate cellular mechanism induced during host-virus interactions as well studying the mechanism of viral transmission over large scale of algal blooms.

We explore the molecular basis for host-virus dynamics and the signal transduction pathways that mediate host resistance and susceptibility to viral infection. Major efforts in our lab are focused on the role of sphingolipid and ROS metabolism and their function in host PCD and autophagy during viral replication strategies.

The high prevalence of viral-encoded metabolic enzymes from aquatic systems strongly points to their central role in shaping the evolutionary “arms race” between marine microbes and their viruses, and consequently, the flow of carbon in marine food webs.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Talks series.

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