If bacteria appear to be the most diverse cellular domain of life on earth, they are easily outnumbered by the viruses that can infect them. With an estimated number of 1031 particles, bacteriophages, or phages, are the most abundant genomic entities across all habitats and a major reservoir of genetic diversity. They have played a major role in understanding molecular bases of crucial biological processes but also in the development of genetic engineering and biotechnology. As predators but also prominent agents of horizontal gene transfer, phages are important drivers of bacterial evolution. Until recent years, the biodiversity, regulatory mechanisms, and impact of phages in natural environment were largely ignored. In recent years, several publications have expanded our understanding of phages biodiversity and demonstrate the existence in a wide variety of ecosystems of phage with large genomes.
Our group works on the study of large phages genomes organization, dynamics and diversity at various scale.
Research projects are mainly focused on:
– the understanding of the ‘large’ phages by studying the spatial organisation and dynamics of their genomes during their infectious cycles.
– the study of phage-bacteria interactions and the dynamics of these elements in ecosystems of various complexity.
– the development of proximity-ligation based methods applied to viral particles and the development of bioinformatics tools for annotating (pro)phages.