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Professor at the University of Tübingen

How to use six genes to conquer a cell : learning from geminiviruses

Viruses, as intracellular parasites, need to subvert the host cell in order to enable viral replication and spread. Due to strict coding limitations, viruses commonly produce a reduced number of proteins; this is the case of geminiviruses, plant DNA viruses that are believed to contain only 4-8 translated open reading frames in their circular single-stranded genome. Strikingly, despite their limited armoury, geminiviruses are able to successfully infect host plants while dramatically altering plant development and physiology, ultimately causing devastating losses to crops worldwide. In our research group, we aim to understand how geminiviruses manipulate the plant cell and lead to disease, for which we use a combination of approaches, including molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics. In this seminar, I will discuss the basic functions viruses need to fulfill and the strategies they use to do so, and how we can use these pathogens as probes to study the organisms they infect.

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