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November 4 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Title: Systems Biology of Viruses in Human and Environmental Microbiomes
Presenter: Karthik Anantharaman Assistant Professor Department of Bacteriology University of Wisconsin – Madison
Abstract: Viruses that infect microbes (typically referred to as bacteriophages, or phages) are the most abundant biological entities in all ecosystems, including the human gut. By infecting and lysing microbial populations, bacteriophages can affect microbial community composition and function which can directly impact human health and physiology, as well as ecosystems. Recent studies have identified different bacteriophage populations in the healthy human gut, and diseased states such as in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) suggesting that phage communities may be involved in specific disease states. Increasing use of sequencing approaches such as metagenomics has allowed the generation of massive quantities of ‘viral dark matter’, which refers to viruses, viral genomes and proteins which are abundant in the microbiomes but are poorly characterized.
In this talk I will describe computational and experimental approaches developed and applied in my laboratory to study viruses associated with human and environmental microbiomes. We have recently developed an approach to identify and characterize viral dark matter in microbiomes from genomic data. This enables for the first-time prediction of virus-microbe metabolic interactions at the scale of entire communities. This approach is incorporated in a newly developed software developed by us called VIBRANT. I will demonstrate the application of this approach to real-world data associated with Intestinal Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease) and highlight the potential for viruses to serve as markers of dysbiosis and disease in human gut microbiota. I will also describe our efforts to study viruses in the environment with a focus on deep-sea hydrothermal systems. Finally, I will demonstrate engineering challenges associated with sampling viruses, especially under pressure in the deep-sea and use high-resolution videos collected from our fieldwork using submarines and robots to describe the impacts of viruses on deep-sea hydrothermal systems.