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Adaptation of Virus Genomes to Insect Immunity


How ecology shapes genomes is a key question to be addressed in the postgenomic era. A leading theory states that species evolve as groups of genomes adapting to particular ecological niches. Thus, shifts to a new ecological niche should be connected to genome divergence, and ultimately to the making of new species. So far we know little on how ecological adaptation affects genomes, because of the difficulty of simultaneously studying evolution at both ecological and whole genome levels. Insect viruses are ideally suited to study this question because their ecological niches are defined by their hosts and because of the nature of their genomes. The transmission of baculoviruses as groups of genomes sets them apart for studying the effect of niches on populations. Their molecular biology is also well understood, which makes them ideal to investigating the genetic and functional details of adaptation. They are thus unique for linking genome changes to ecological changes. Polydnaviruses have extraordinary genomes, domesticated by wasps to deliver molecular weapons to fight the immunity of their Lepidoptera hosts. Sequencing polydnavirus genomes therefore opens windows to understanding mutualism and how parasitic wasps have adapted to different hosts. Lastly, the diversity of insect viruses provides an exceptional opportunity to examine if different evolutionary lineages have converged toward similar genomic solutions to respond to similar immunity and why some lineages have diversified more than others. Studying virus adaptation to the immunity of different insect species will reveal how viral genomes have been shaped by the ecological niches of their host immunity. At the frontier of ecology and genomics GENOVIR, takes on the challenge of studying ecological adaptation at the level of whole genomes. The innovative application of cutting-edge molecular and genomic techniques to the interface with ecology will transform our understanding of evolution.

Call for proposal

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Host institution

EU contribution
€ 1 000 000,00
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Principal investigator
Elisabeth, Anne Herniou (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Patrice Soullié (Mr.)
Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)