Monday, 18th December 2017

Overview

Infectious diseases remain an important cause of human morbidity and mortality, and are responsible for major economic losses to livestock owners all over the world. We carry out high-quality basic research in molecular virology/microbiology covering all relevant aspects of the interactions of microbes with their hosts and environment, from the molecular basis of viral disease in humans and animals (cell receptor recognition, viral replication, transcriptional and translational regulation, assembly and mechanisms employed by infectious agents to evade immunity) to the biochemical analysis of regulatory processes involved in controlling bacterial growth, morphogenesis, cell division, antibiotic resistance and sporulation. These studies are complemented by genomic and transcriptome analysis of microbial populations in different environments (e.g., studies of viral quasispecies in infected cell cultures and natural hosts and metagenomic analysis of microbes in extreme environments). 

We take a multidisciplinary approach, studying viruses from different families: poxvirus, herpesvirus, picornavirus, parvovirus, retrovirus, asfarvirus, togavirus and arenavirus, as well as cellular microorganisms (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacteroides fragilis, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio cholerae, Bacillus subtilis, Thermus thermophilus, Asticcacaulis biprosthecium, Streptomyces sp., Rhodotorula sp., Schawannoidmyces occidentalis, iron and sulphur oxidizers, etc.).

As a whole, our studies are expected to contribute to the development of novel antimicrobial drugs and vaccines, as well as enzymes and other reagents with biotechnological and industrial applications.  

The research carried out in the Department of Virology and Microbiology is organized into five major areas:

(1) Population dynamics and characterization of microbiomes: Genetic variability of RNA and single-stranded DNA viruses and metagenomic analysis in extreme environments.

(2) Virus-host interactions: Immunity and modulation of the immune response: Modulation of the immune response by viruses, African swine fever virus as a model of evasion and protection, and novel vaccines against foot-and-mouth disease virus.

(3) Basic molecular and cellular virology: Viral entry, genome replication, translation regulation and viral tropism, and capsid formation and morphogenesis.

(4) Basic molecular and cellular bacteriology: Bacterial morphogenesis, cell division and antibiotics resistance, and extrachromosomal elements in Bacillus subtilis.

(5) Biotechnological applications in virology and microbiology: Viral capsids as nanocontainers, fidelity of reverse transcriptases, genetics of extreme thermophiles, usage of acidophile microorganisms in biomining, and production of prebiotic oligosaccharides from non-conventional yeasts.