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Simon Roux is a member of the metagenome project at the Joint Genome Institute, which is a part of the Berkeley Lab. In this episode, he discusses his research on viruses that affect microbial life.

Tune in to discover:

  • How nutrient, UV, and chemical stress of the host cell could trigger the lytic cycle of viral reproduction
  • What is unique about filamentous bacteriophage
  • How phage predation could drive speciation of microorganisms
  • How biofilms can protect microbes from viruses

These days, it seems all the world has its focus on one virus, but Roux reminds us that there are likely billions of viruses in the universe, with at least one for every species on Earth.

Over the course of the last five years or so, we’ve gone from having discovered just a few thousand virus genomes to now two million virus genomes. This is a massive amount of growth in data, and according to Roux, viruses will just continue to be discovered for the foreseeable future.

As part of the metagenome project, Roux uses a number of ‘omics’ to study the genetic composition and function of viruses, including metatranscriptomics and metabolomics. He focuses exclusively on viruses of microbes, whether bacteria, archaea, or protists. He explains that contrary to what many people think, viruses don’t just kill their host cells, but carry out an array of activities and may choose between a lytic infection and a chronic infection.

Roux discusses a number of topics involving phage, the viruses of bacteria. With over ten years’ worth of data at their fingertips, Roux is one of many researchers asking questions about the nature of the interactions between host cells of different types of microbes and viruses across microbial species.

To learn more about the work being done at Berkeley Lab and the Joint Genome Institute, visit and

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