Skip to main content
European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results
CORDIS

Distinct Infection Dynamics and Ecological Success among Closely Related Marine Cyanophages: Why the Differences?

Project description

Deciphering marine viral physiology and ecology among different viruses

Viruses have a profound impact on the marine ecosystem. However, our understanding of the physiology and ecology of marine viruses remains limited. Recent data obtained through a newly developed molecular method have revealed striking differences in the field abundances of two subtypes of T7-like podoviruses that infect marine cyanobacteria. These subtypes have also exhibited significant variations in infection properties during laboratory studies. The EU-funded PhageDiff project will provide a comprehensive understanding of the genetic factors underlying the physiological differences in infection dynamics among closely related T7-like cyanophages that infect marine cyanobacteria such as Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus. The project will investigate the ecological consequences arising from these differences. It will shed light on the intricate interplay between marine viruses and their host cyanobacteria.

Objective

Viruses are extremely abundant in the oceans and majorly impact the marine ecosystem by influencing the abundance, diversity and evolution of their hosts. However, our understanding of marine viral physiology and ecology among different members of the virus community is conspicuously lacking. Preliminary data using a newly developed molecular method revealed drastic differences in field abundances of two subtypes of T7-like podoviruses that infect marine cyanobacteria. Moreover, these subtypes displayed large differences in infection properties in laboratory studies. The main objective of this proposal is to gain a deep understanding of the genetic basis for the physiological differences in infection dynamics among closely related T7-like cyanophages that infect the globally important marine cyanobacteria, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, and to ascertain the ecological consequences of these physiological differences. We hypothesize that a small set of genes, beyond the core replication and morphogenesis genes, differentially impact the dynamics of the infection process which, in-turn, defines the niche occupied by discrete members of this virus family. Our specific objectives are to identify the genes responsible for the physiological differences and determine their impact on infection dynamics. This will be achieved through the development of a phage gene inactivation system and the comparison of infection properties of mutant and wild-type phages. Furthermore, using our new molecular field method, we will assess the distribution patterns of different subtypes of T7-like cyanophages from within the mix of all viruses in the oceans. The unique combination of innovative molecular methods with physiological experimentation and ecological sampling will provide significant insight into both the biological functionality behind the diversity within an ecologically relevant phage family and the selection pressures that have led to their diversification and evolution.

Host institution

TECHNION - ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
Net EU contribution
€ 2 162 296,00
Address
SENATE BUILDING TECHNION CITY
32000 Haifa
Israel

See on map

Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 2 162 296,00

Beneficiaries (1)