Periodic Reporting for period 3 - Virus-X (Virus-X: Viral Metagenomics for Innovation Value)
Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-03-31
The overall objectives in this multidisciplinary project included both scientific and technological objectives. Among the scientific objectives was better understanding of microbial ecosystems, the diversity of viruses in nature and their interaction with their natural microbial hosts. Of special interest in understanding virus-host interactions are instruments of immunity in bacteria against viruses such as the CRISPR system. Also, of importance in this project was the elucidation of the function of gene products that had an unknown function. The metagenomics approach, combined with the development of powerful new bioinformatics tools, structural determinations of gene products and complementary biochemical analysis has provided a way for such scientific discoveries.
A central objective in the project and the mass of the work was the Virus-X biodiscovery pipeline enabling the discovery and utilization of enzymes from selected target genes. Enzymes from bacteria and not the least from viruses have before proved to be the tools that have enabled the revolution we have witnessed in biotechnology, genetics and other biological sciences. Some of the most important tools, for instance heat stable DNA polymerases for use in a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), have been derived from microorganisms that live under extreme environmental conditions. Such environments have been a special focus point in the Virus-X project for the exploration and exploitation of the genetic diversity within the genomes of viruses.
The Virus-X was successfully completed leading to innovations and industrial value in the form of specific marketable products for biotech applications. Furthermore, the wealth of information and scientific discoveries, now evident as a result of the Virus-X project, are immense in both scope and value with an impact that will continue long after the completion of the project. Receiving funding through the European Framework programme for Research and Innovation was absolutely vital to be able to carry out a research and development plan of this scale and ambition.