MIC 291: Selected Topics in Microbiology
Dr. Monica Borucki
“Recovering Viral Population Diversity to Improve Biosurveillance and Predict Viral Emergence”
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
1022 Life Sciences
Abstract: RNA viruses constantly evolve to optimize interactions with their hosts and potentially expand host range. Understanding the role of quasispecies in viral evolution is a necessary step toward optimizing detection of emergent viruses, developing effective countermeasures, and ultimately predicting the potential impact of emerging or novel viruses. Deep Illumina sequencing and computational analysis of viral quasispecies was used to define the role intra-host viral diversity plays in the adaptation of viruses to new host environments, with a focus on viral families of medical significance that exhibit the propensity for cross species transmission. Analysis of samples from a naturally occurring rabies host jump, and from in vitro and in vivo passage of a coronavirus and a paramyxovirus indicate that viral diversity plays a pivotal role in viral adaptation. In each case the genetic changes that characterized the emergent genotype were present as rare variants in the virus population prior to selection. These results suggest that recovering the full genetic diversity could improve biosurveillance by building a knowledge base of mutations that may play a role in viral emergence. Similarly, the presence of ancestral genotypes as rare members of the population may provide insights useful for forensic studies and outbreak investigation.
Dr. Borucki is a Biomedical Scientist in the Biosciences and Biotechnology Division of LLNL. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of viral evolution and emergence, biosurveillance, and viral forensics. Before coming to LLNL, she served as a Research Geneticist at USDA-ARS and adjunct faculty at Washington State University where she investigated the epidemiology and virulence of food pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes.