Me, myself and I: The costs and benefits of a multipartite genome organization in viruses

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


Many viral genomes are composed of different segments, but some viruses individually package these segments into virus particles. For these so-called multipartite viruses to propagate, each genome segment must be transmitted between hosts, as the incomplete virus can no longer replicate. This apparently inefficient genome organization is common among plant viruses, raising the question of whether it confers any benefits. In this talk, I will first use a combination of theoretical and experimental work to consider whether the predicted cost of multipartitism is real. Next, I will explore some of the hypotheses for the benefits associated with multipartitism, highlighting the idea that rapid changes in the frequency of viral genome segments may be adaptive. Finally, we now know that a few multipartite animal viruses exist, and there is a growing awareness that a larger number of animal viruses produce incomplete virus particles that must complement each other. I will show how we are applying our framework inspired by plant viruses to a zoonotic animal virus, highlighting that similar costs and benefits may apply to the genome organization of a broad range of viruses.
Period22 Oct 2021
Held atGroningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), Netherlands
Degree of RecognitionNational