Docent Sadeghi Reza

155100 €

Unicellular eukaryotes and viruses: a crucial, unexplored relationship

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

Protists (single-celled eukaryotes) are ecologically crucial unicellular species of aquatic environments that contribute significantly to global carbon fixation. A critical gap exists in our understanding of the unicellular eukaryotes' viral community and their interaction mechanisms during viral infections. The focus of this project is on the diversity of viruses residing in unicellular eukaryotes and their impact on the ecological activity of the host. I will use a novel combination of methodologies which is a prerequisite for deeper analyses of protist viruses. Metagenomics analysis in combination with cultured-based systems and comparative laboratory-based molecular techniques will be utilized to understand the diversity and evolution of RNA viruses in protists. Building upon this experimental system will provide a path forward towards a broader understanding of the link between the ecology and global impact of RNA viruses on their hosts. I will therefore be a pioneer in describing the reproductive steps of RNA viruses infecting aquatic unicellular protists at the molecular level, thereby opening up possible routes for future study of the evolutionary ecology of viruses. This project provides novel information on virus-unicellular eukaryote interactions, helping us to understand the extent of viral feedback in relation to climate change and marine productivity with important implications for human health.