Virions and Provirus, Oxygen and Algae: Forest Rohwer Talks Research on Viromes

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Apr 30 2020 47 mins  
Professor Forest Rohwer's lab invented many of the methods to look at the virome, particularly the uncultured methods utilizing metagenomics. In this podcast, he shares some interesting observations of virus ecology, such as The diverse types and stages of viruses inside humans and on our body, The differences in behavior of viruses in our cells and out and how that may connect to disease therapies, and His current research focusing on ecosystems of the human lung, specifically cystic fibrosis, and coral reef virus ecosystems. Dr. Forest Rohwer is a marine microbiologist and microbial ecologist and professor of biology at San Diego State University. He discusses the complex behavior of viruses in humans, observations and findings that may lead to treating how virions affect cells and how scientists can manipulate that behavior in treatments for pathogenic viruses such as Covid19. He explains that we humans have viruses and bacteriophage, retrovirus, herpesvirus, Torque Teno Viruses (TTV), and more: it's a complex ecosystem. Our gut in particular is filled with phages attacking the bacteria and in symbiosis with bacteria. He provides one example of bacteria in our gut that carry a lot of prophage, which they shed over time. These viruses will bind to the mucus of the gut and forma barrier that will kill bacteria invading our gut, thereby protecting their host. These are the kinds of relationships that reveal this complex relationship. He also talks about his current research into two different ecosystems, namely the human lung in relationship to cystic fibrosis and coral reefs in the context of increased algae due to decreased fish and diversity. He explains how the human and coral system studies both reveal virus behavior, namely how provirus and virions increase or decrease depending on oxygen levels. He explains that this may provide insights for therapies for disease to manipulate virus presence. This may be useful for pathogenic viruses such as Covd19. For more, see his lab page at, where a copy of his book Life in our Phage World is available as a free download.