Our interest in the forces of mortality that act on cells in the ocean led to the development of this research theme. Viruses are known to be abundant in the ocean – but how many are actually infective, who they infect, and the factors that influence infection are all still poorly understood (see our review article with colleagues ranging from trace metal chemists to phage biologists: Zimmerman et al. Nature Reviews Microbiology 2020)! We use several different approaches to try to understand host-virus interactions. The first is culture experiments (Fig. 1) – where we have explored infection kinetics and how they are shaped by the nutrient status of the host cell. Our models here are widespread marine green algae, specifically Bathycoccus, Micromonas (e.g., Bachy et al. EM 2018) and Ostreococcus (Zimmerman et al. EM 2019). In the latter two studies, we tried to understand whether infection changes were connected purely to growth rate or actually shaped by the growth limiting factor. We know that some viruses carry auxiliary metabolic genes – like the cross-domain ones we captured in viruses of bacteria and eukaryotes alike in our earlier metagenomic and targeted metagenomics work (Monier et al. EM 2012). One approach we use is to study responses of both the host and virus at the molecular level using transcriptomics.

For more information please visit