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Viruses of freshwater microbial eukaryotes

Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on Earth. They are everywhere, in our surroundings, the oceans, and the soil, infecting almost every species. While viruses as pathogens of humans, livestock and plants are intensively studied worldwide because of their significant economic importance or harm to human and animal health, still little is known about viruses infecting microbial eukaryotes (protists). Protist-viral interactions, however, profoundly impacted eukaryotes’ evolution, and they still play an essential role in the ecosystems functioning by shaping protistan communities.

The project aims to advance our knowledge of the protist-viral interactions focusing on abundant freshwater free-living protists from the Euglenozoa group. The project’s main goal is to understand how viruses influence the protist’s communities in freshwaters and, more specifically, to confirm the presence of viruses in free-living euglenozoans experimentally. During the implementation of the project, it is planned to perform: metagenomes and protist single-cell genomes analysis; isolation of protist viruses from freshwater environmental samples. Establishing cultures and infection experiments; sequencing, assembly and annotation of viral genomes.

The result of the project will allow us to identify in silico viruses in the freshwater metagenomic and genomic data and experimentally confirm viral interactions of certain groups of protists, as well as elucidate the evolutionary history of newly identified viruses.