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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!
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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!