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SPP 2330

New concepts in prokaryotic virus-host interaction – from single cells to microbial communities

Call for proposals:

Prof. Dr. Julia Frunzke from the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-1) is coordinating one of 14 new Priority Programmes (SPP) established by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2020. The new SPP focuses on the investigation of virus-host interactions in prokaryotes both on the single cell level and in the context of microbial communities. The 14 new consortia will receive a total of approximately 85 million euros for an initial period of three years.


Discovered more than 100 years ago, research using bacteriophages (viruses infecting bacteria) was the primary driving force in deciphering the molecular basis for life. In recent years, revolutionary discoveries on the biology of prokaryotic viruses were made, including the finding that viruses can use small molecules to make group-level decisions, the discovery of intracellular molecular complexes made by viruses that blur the boundary between prokaryotic and eukaryotic life, and the multitude of novel anti-viral immune systems acting at the unicellular and multicellular level.


The proposed priority program focuses on three scales of complexity of viral organization: viral cell biology, new unicellular and multicellular anti-viral defenses, and viral impact on multispecies microbial communities. The experimental components will be complemented by mathematical modelling and prediction of virus-host interaction. Together, the concerted effort of this consortium will lead the field to uncover new concepts for these rapidly emerging topics. History has impressively shown that the discovery of new concepts in virus-host interaction has often led to revolutions in molecular biology and biotechnology as exemplified by the enormous impact of virus-derived tools used for genetic (restriction enzymes) and genome engineering (CRISPR-Cas). Furthermore, the global spread of antibiotic resistance has recently fostered a global surge in the reinvestigation of phage biology and phage therapy. Consequently, we expect the coordinated effort within this SPP to open up new horizons and opportunities for discovering fundamentally new concepts and mechanisms in biology, with high potentials for applications in molecular biology, phage therapy, food processing, and agriculture.


DFG press release: