D. Prangishvili - research



Our group is interested in exploration of the diversity of viruses on our planet. Specifically, we study viruses associated with the third domain of life, the Archaea, and isolate them from geothermally heated areas in various regions of active volcanism and active tectonics.

About two dozen of hyperthermophilic crenarchaeal viruses, all with double-stranded DNA genomes, have been isolated and studied by us. The viruses form a singular group in the viral world, not related to the viruses of Bacteria and Eukarya, with a unique origin, or, more likely, multiple origins.

Due to unique morphological and genomic properties of crenarchaeal viruses, novel viral families were introduced for their classification. The viruses from our collection represent six different viral families: Rudiviridae, Lipothrixviridae, Globuloviridae, Ampullaviridae, Bicaudaviridae and Fuselloviridae. More than 90% of viral genes do not have detectable homologs in extent databases (other than in other archaeal viruses), and functions of the vast majority of viral genes are still unidentified. One of the objectives of our research is to understand functions of viral genes and to gain insights into rationale behind complex structure and exceptional biological characteristics of the viruses, with a focus on replication and transcription of their genomes. To this end, we use biochemical and molecular biological approaches combined with structural genomics.

With the studies on biology of archaeal viruses we expect to gain a better understanding of origin and evolution of viruses and their impact on early life evolution, and by expanding our studies to yet unexplored hot environments we hope to further contribute to the knowledge on viral diversity.  


David Prangishvili