Community-wide analysis of bacteriophages infecting bacteria inhabiting an extreme environment contaminated with heavy metals

Grant number: 2017/25/B/NZ8/00472
Funded by:

National Science Centre

Project description:
The aim of this project is to determine the diversity and abundance of the bacteriophages, that infect bacteria inhabiting an environment containing heavy metals at high concentrations. An object of study is a phage community of unusual ecological niche – the ancient gold mine Zloty Stok (Poland). This ecosystem is inhabited by unique groups of microorganisms physiologically adapted to its harsh conditions, which form structurally organized communities – microbial mats in the bottom sediments and biofilms on the mine walls. For most bacterial families of this microbiocenosis no viruses have been reported so far. By combining high-throughput, genomic analysis and classical laboratory techniques, we would like to expand our understanding of the relationships between phages and bacteria in an extreme environment and their co-evolution. We would like to estimate the extent of involvement of the mine virome in the shaping and adaptation of the local bacterial community and its involvement in the formation of the spatial structure of biofilms and microbiological mats. We assume that the project will also result in the identification and isolation of new bacteriophages, and consequently in the discovery of novel environmental host-phage systems.