Matariki Lecture 2020: Virus-X – exploring the structural and functional diversity of the Virosphere

4 March 2020

  • Date: 13 March 2020, 09:30 – 11:00
  • Location: SciLifeLab, Trippelrummet
  • Lecturer: Associate Professor Ehmke Pohl from Durham University.
  • Website
  • Organizer: Uppsala universitet
  • Contact: Torsten Blomkvist
  • Email:

You have heard of Corona, Ebola, Zika, MERS and SARS. Since 2018 Virus X has appeared at the end of the list of diseases for which the WHO determined accelerated research and development is urgently needed. Disease X or Virus X is what may become the biggest infectious threat to our world. 

This year the lecture will be a part of The Matariki Network 10 Year Anniversary Celebration in Uppsala.

09:30–10:00: Celebration and cake
10:00–11:00: Lecture

The Matariki Lecture series showcases themes that advance teaching and research connections between members of the Matariki network. The lectures are held annually, hosted by member institutions on a rotating basis, and feature an invited speaker from a different Matariki partner institution. 

The lecture will be streamed live online at 10.00 CET (04:00 EST) and made available as a recording after the event. 

Watch Matariki lecture 2020 live

Lecture abstract:

Virus-X – exp exploring the structural and functional diversity of the Virosphere
Viruses are a highly diverse family of infectious agents that can only replicate inside living cells exploiting the cellular machinery of its host. Different types of viruses can infect all forms of life from animals and plants to all microorganisms. Due to this genetic diversity many of today’s standards tools in biotechnology are derived from viral genes, yet, viruses still represent the largest reservoir of unexplored genetic wealth on the planet. The Horizon 2020 Virus-X project aims to explore the outer realms of this ‘virosphere’ by searching extreme microbial ecosystems such as hot Icelandic lakes and high-pressure arctic deep-sea vents in the hope of uncovering novel and potentially commercially valuable genetic material. The project combines this bioprospecting of extreme environments with detailed bioinformatic analysis to identify and characterise new viral enzymes for applications in the ever-growing bio-economy.   

In this lecture, the key methods and challenges involved in establishing the pipeline of the Virus-X project will be presented, from collecting virus samples to analysing the structures and functions of the encoded enzymes, through to uncovering novel biotechnology applications.

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