Viruses are small, non-living infectious agents that replicate only inside the cells of living organisms. They can infect all forms of life from plants to animals to microbes. Viruses that infect only bacteria are called bacteriophages, or phages. These phage shape microbial populations and processes through mortality, gene transfer, and metabolic reprogramming. Because microbes are important players in the cycling of earth’s chemical nutrients such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, this phage-host interaction is important to study. However, quantifying viral roles in nature has been limited by technical challenges.
For a fun and fascinating read about viruses and their roles in the biosphere, the American Academy of Microbiology published a report based on the deliberations of viral experts: Viruses Throughout Life & Time: Friends, Foes, Change Agents
Here, at the Sullivan Lab, we are developing new ways to “see” and understand viruses both in the laboratory and in nature. We are a partner lab with the Ecosystems Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona which explores the properties and processes of ecosystems through analysis of communities, populations, organisms, genomes, transcriptomes, and metabolomes.
Visit the links below for more specifc information about our research.
Cruise tracks of the Tara Oceans and Malaspina expeditions. Tara Oceans cruise track is highlighted in blue (2009-2010), green (2010-2011), and white (2011-2012) lines, while that of the 10-month Malaspina expedition is red.