Science AMA Series: This is Chris Deeg of the University of British
Columbia (Canada). I do research on Giant Viruses that infect
microscopic organisms and I’m here today to talk about it. AMA!
hi reddit! I’m a graduate student in Curtis Suttle’s lab at the
University of British Columbia (Canada) where our research focuses on
aquatic microbiology. I study pathogens that infect protists –
microscopic organisms living in aquatic environments. Amongst them are
Giant Viruses that have challenged concepts of what constitutes a virus
due to their enormous size and complexity. My research aims to explore
the diversity and environmental role of these overlooked viruses.
Further, I am interested in the evolutionary processes that have led to
Giant Viruses reaching a complexity comparable to cellular organisms. In
a recent paper published in the journal eLife, my colleagues and I
isolated and characterized the giant Bodo saltans virus (BsV) that
infects the protist Bodo saltans. Sequencing the genome of BsV revealed
many previously unknown genes, a putative mechanism for genome
expansion, and several unusual features, such as movable genetic
elements that might help to fend off other Giant Viruses by cutting
their genomes. You can read a plain-language summary of our findings.
I’m here to answer questions related to our eLife paper or our research
more broadly. I’ll start answering questions at 1pm EDT. AMA!