Starting date: flexible (mid 2017 to early 2018).
Place: recently created Institute for Integrative Systems Biology
(I2SysBio), Valencia, Spain.
Project title: Collective Infectious Units and the Social Evolution of
Funding: ERC Consolidator Grant, 2017-2022.
Goal: understand how multi-virion infectious units determine social-like interactions in viruses (cooperation versus conflict). We will use vesicular stomatitis virus and/or enteroviruses and/or baculoviruses as model systems.
Candidates should have a background in virology and molecular/cell biology.
ERC project summary:
A widely accepted view in virology is that virions function as independent
infectious units. However, recent work by us and others indicates that
viruses are often transmitted as more complex structures, such as virion
aggregates, lipid vesicles or protein matrices harbouring multiple
infectious particles. This demonstrates that viruses can be transmitted as
"collective infectious units", in contrast with the current paradigm.
Critically, these recent discoveries now set the stage for the evolution of
social interactions, a previously unappreciated facet of viruses. We propose
to investigate how collective infectious units drive virus social evolution
using state-of-the-art tools from the fields of virology, genetics,
structural biology, and nanotechnology. The effects of collective
infectivity on viral fitness will be tested directly using experimental
evolution and genetic engineering, and confirmed in vivo. Three widely
different viruses will be used to achieve generality: human enteroviruses, a
vector-borne rhabdovirus, and a baculovirus. Furthermore, the implications
of virus social interactions for the maintenance of genetic diversity,
evolvability, virulence evolution, and the emergence of drug resistance will
be investigated. New processes such as the putative extracellular fusion of
viral particles will be also explored. We expect that infectious units
constituted by viruses from different species will be uncovered as well,
with far-reaching implications for epidemiology. It is becoming increasingly
recognized that parasite sociality is a disease determinant, and our results
may therefore inspire new antiviral strategies. Beyond their practical
importance viruses will also provide a simple and tractable system that will
help us to establish more general principles of social evolution.
Relevant literature: Sanjuán R. 2017. Collective Infectious Units in
Viruses. Trends Microbiol., in press.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; +34 96 354 32 70.