Evolution of virus epidemics
The fast evolutionary rate of viruses leaves a strong imprint on their genomes. We use computational approaches, ranging from deep learning to phylogenomics to investigate how viruses evolve and spread. These types of studies can aid us to understand what allowed the creation and spread of a viral endemic/pandemic.
We investigate a broad range of viruses, from human viruses (e.g., HIV, SARS-Coronavirus-2) to fish viruses and all the way to bacterial viruses (phages).
Experimental evolution of RNA viruses
Viruses possess the highest known mutation rate per generation. Coupled with huge population sizes and rapid generation times, this means we can observe evolution in real-time.
In the lab, we manipulate viral growth, and use ultra-deep sequencing to observe how genomes of viruses mutate and change over time and space.
Hosts fight back
“It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place” (The Red Queen, in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass).
Viruses rapidly evolve to overcome host defenses. Hosts that are not up to speed, are at a disadvantage - only those hosts that can keep up the pace survive the mighty race.
We look at signatures in viral genomes which attest to the immune system fighting the virus. This allows us both to better understand how immunity works, and how viruses fight back.