Bruce Levin: An excursion into the population and evolutionary dynamics of bacteriophage

  • Date: Oct 17, 2019
  • Time: 11:00 - 11:00
  • Speaker: Bruce Levin from Emory University, Atlanta, USA
  • Here you will find more information on the speaker:
  • Location: MPI Plön
  • Room: Lecture hall
  • Host: Paul Rainey
Bruce Levin: An excursion into the population and evolutionary dynamics of bacteriophage


While the viruses of bacteria and archaea, phage, are touted to be the most abundant organisms on earth, we know very little about the population and evolutionary biology of natural populations of these viruses and their contribution to the ecology, evolution and species and strain composition of the natural communities of their host bacteria and archaea. Fundamental questions remain un- answered or insufficiently answered. Do phage limit the densities of their host bacteria and archaea? How are these viruses maintained after the almost invariable evolution of resistant or immune bacteria upon which they cannot replicate? Under what conditions does natural selection favor the evolution of temperate rather than purely lytic modes of phage replication, lysogeny? Under what conditions will natural selection favor bacteria-expressed genes, like those for the production of the toxins responsible for the virulence of many pathogenic bacteria, be carried on the prophage of temperate viruses rather than plasmids or the chromosomes of bacteria? Why, if resistance can be readily generated by mutation do bacteria have other sometimes complex mechanisms, like restriction-modification (RM) and CRISPR-Cas, to prevent them from succumbing to infections with lytic phage? Did RM and CRISPR-Cas evolve and are they maintained by selection mediated by lytic phage? In this talk, which I hope will be a discussion, I will consider what mathematical and computer simulation models and laboratory experiments with bacteria and phage tell us about the answers to these questions.

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