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Recombination in RNA viruses: Molecular mechanisms and honeybee disease

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Seminar
25 March 2015, 10.30am
at New Seminar Room, Dundee and streamed live to Gill Room, Aberdeen
for scientists, students and other interested parties
Bee with DWV - By Stefan de Konink (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hosted by Lesley Torrance and Alison Karley from our Cell and Molecular Sciences group, this seminar by Professor David Evans (University of Warwick) will discuss the role of genetic recombination in the evolution of deformed wing virus, the most important viral pathogen of honeybees.

Abstract

Genetic recombination in RNA viruses is an important evolutionary mechanism. Recent studies from our laboratory - using poliovirus as a model system - have demonstrated the process is biphasic, involving an initial promiscuous strand crossover event followed by one or more resolution events which increase the fitness of the resulting progeny. This process may explain ‘evolution by duplication’ in some RNA viruses. Recombinant RNA viruses may exhibit different biological characteristics. In our studies of deformed wing virus (DWV), the most important viral pathogen of honeybees, we have demonstrated that a recombinant strain of DWV is associated with overt disease in bees. This strain replicates to high levels and achieves near clonality when transmitted by the ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor. In contrast, healthy adult worker bees unexposed to Varroa carry only low levels of a divergent population of DWV-like viruses. The current and future studies on recombination and recombinant strains of DWV will be presented.

Biography

David Evans is currently Professor of Virology in the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick. His research interests include the replication and evolution of important human and animal viral pathogens including hepatitis C virus, poliovirus and deformed wing virus of honeybees. Further details of these research areas can be found on his group website. David has held previous academic positions at the Universities of Reading and Glasgow, has extensive grant support from Research Councils and charities, has published over 80 peer-reviewed publications and supervised more than 20 PhD. students. David is an experienced beekeeper with interests in honeybee health, queen rearing and stock improvement. He is moving to St. Andrews University in August 2015 to take up a Chair in Virology in the School of Biology and is very keen to explore potential future collaborations and research plans.

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