Friday, 22nd September 2017

 Virology and Microbiology

    Metagenomic analysis of the oral viral community







Alberto López Bueno








Research summary:


Viruses are the most abundant and genetically diverse biological entities on the planet. They are key players in the regulation of microbial ecosystems due to the selective pressure they exert on their microbial host and to the virus-mediated horizontal transmission of genetic material. Our body includes several ecosystems formed by hundreds of different species of microorganisms, which provide a range of essential functions to our well-being. Some authors point to disturbances in the ecological equilibrium within these microbial communities (dysbiosis) as the cause for some complex diseases of unknown aetiology. Viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages) constitute one additional element of complexity in our microbiota and are probably behind many such ecological imbalances.

In this project we will perform metagenomic analyses of the viral populations in two frequent affections of the oral cavity; dental caries and Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS). We will assess several protocols to purify viral particles and randomly amplify and/or clone their genomes in fosmids prior to their analysis by high-throughput sequencing. The structure of the bacterial community and its history of bacteriophage exposure will be analysed by pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and CRISPRs respectively.

We believe that this project will provide a more complete view of human oral microbiota and help understand the relationship between ecological imbalances and complex diseases, such as the ones studied herein. Finally, the rational use of these viruses constitutes a promising tool to manipulate and eventually recover healthy human microbiomes.