Virus-X Objectives

The multinational European research project Virus-X can be summarized by 4 main objectives

Bioprospecting

The Virus-X project will employ sequence-based bioprospecting methodologies combining bioinformatics, functional analysis and structural biology (3D structure determination) to explore metagenomes of viruses in natural ecosystems and the encoded gene products.

Metagenomics toolbox

The Virus-X project puts emphasis on developing the metagenomics toolbox creating new toools to strengthen future efforts in the field. This includes new bioinformatics tools for sequence analysis and structure-function analysis of protein families.

Microbial Ecosystems

The Virus-X project will enhance the understanding of microbial communities and functional dynamics between viruses and microorganisms. The exploration of viruses in nature focuses on natural ecosystems in the ocean off the coast of Norway and geothermal areas (hot springs) in Iceland.

Invention to Innovation

Virus-X is a research and development plan ultimately leading to innovations and industrial value in the form of specific marketable products of viral origin, i.e. biocatalysts for biotech applications, as well as improved services in the field of bioinformatics and structural biology.

Virus-X Excellence

Virus-X is an exploration into the outer realms of biological sequence space

Biological sequence diversity is nowhere as apparent as in the vast sequence space of viral genomes. The VIRUS-X project will specifically explore the outer realms of this diversity by targeting the virosphere of selected microbial ecosystems and investigate the encoded functional variety of viral gene products. The project is driven by the expected large innovation value and unique properties of viral proteins, previously demonstrated by the many virally derived DNA and RNA processing enzymes used in biotechnology. Concomitantly, the project will advance our understanding of important aspects of ecology in terms of viral diversity, ecosystem dynamics and virus-host interplay. Last but not least, due to the inherent challenges in gene annotation, functional assignments and other virus-specific technical obstacles of viral metagenomics, the Virus-X project specifically addresses these challenges using innovative measures in all parts of the discovery and analysis pipeline, from sampling difficult extreme biotopes, through sequencing and innovative bioinformatics to efficient production of enzymes for molecular biotechnology. Virus-X will advance the metagenomic toolbox significantly and our capabilities for future exploitation of viral biological diversity, the largest unexplored genetic reservoir on Earth.

Virus-X Partners

The Virus-X Consortium provides excellence in every aspect of the project and includes leading scientists and entrepreneurs in Europe
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Prokazyme, Iceland

Dr. Arnthor Ævarsson (Project Coordinator and Leader of WP11 Administration); Dr. Jakob K. Kristjansson
Prokazyme is a small biotech company located in Reykjavik, Iceland. Prokazyme specializes in discovery and development of enzymes, in particular from thermophilic microorganisms.
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A&A Biotechnology, Poland

Dr. Slawomir Dabrowski (Leader of P4 Invention to Innovation and WP10 Demonstration and Dissemination)
A&A Biotechnology focuses on expertise, interests, experience and production on advanced tools for molecular biology products. A&A Biotechnology arise based on its own research and development activities. Currently, A&A Biotechnology offers more than 200 products including kits for the isolation of nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) from a variety of sources of biological material, and recombinant proteins and enzymes.
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BIO-PRODICT, The Netherlands

Dr. Bas Vroling; Joanna Lange; Dr. Henk-Jan Joosten
Bio-Prodict is focused on delivering solutions for guiding scientific research in the field of protein engineering, molecular design and DNA diagnostics. We apply novel approaches to data mining, storage and analysis of protein data and combine these with state-of-the art analysis methods and visualization tools to create custom-built information systems for protein superfamilies.
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ArcticZymes, Norway

Dr. Olav Lanes, Dr. Jethro Holter, Dr. Bernd Ketelsen Striberny
ArcticZymes is a biotechnology company located in Tromsø, Norway, specializing in discovery and development of unique enzymes from extreme habitats into high-end products for molecular research and diagnostics.
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Saromics biostructures, Sweden

Prof. Salam AL-Karadaghi (Leader of WP9 Structural Determination); Dr, Maria Håkansson, Dr. Björn Walse; Dr. Derek Logan
SARomics Biostructures is a technology driven research company providing services in structural biology and drug discovery. The company’s advanced platform for high-throughput protein crystallization, structure determination and computational chemistry will be used within the Virus-X project for protein characterization, crystallization and structure determination.
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Max-Planck Institute, Germany

Dr. Johannes Söding (Leader of P2 Bioinformatics and WP4 Annotation and structure-function), Dr. Clovis Galiez, Dr. Lukasz Kozlowski, Martin Steinegger
The quantitative and computational biology group at the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry develops computational and statistical methods for predicting the structure and function of proteins from their amino acid sequences. We develop the software tools HHpred, HH-suite, MMseqs2, and BaMM!motif.
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MATIS, Iceland

Prof. Gudmundur O. Hreggvidsson (Leader of WP2 Metagenome Sequencing); Dr. Ólafur H. Fridjonsson; Elísabet E. Guðmundsdóttir MSc; Edda Olgudottir MSc; Lilja B. Jónsdóttir MSc; Dr. Björn Th. Adalsteinsson, Solveig Petursdottir MSc,
The Biotechnology Research Group at Matís seeks unique microbes in hot springs and in the marine environment. The aim is to identify and produce active and powerful enzymes or other valuable compounds for use in the food processing, pharmaceutical and chemical industries.
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Pasteur Institute, France

Dr. David Prangishvili, Dr. Mart Krupovic
The research group “Viruses of Archaea” at the Institut Pasteur, Paris, is interested in exploration of the diversity of viruses on our planet. Two dozens of unique DNA viruses, assigned to 10 novel virus families, viruses have been isolated and characterized by us from diverse extreme thermal environments. The viruses from our collection infect hyperthermophilic Archaea, growing optimally above 80°C, and display morphological and genomic properties that are different from those of viruses of Bacteria and Eukarya.
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University of Stuttgart, Germany

Dr. Josef Altenbuchner (Leader of WP6 Cloning and optimization); Dr. Hildegard Watzlawick
The Institute of Industrial Genetics is active in genetics and molecular biology of industrial microorganism. The focus is on development of expression platforms for various bacteria and their application for high level expression of genes relevant in the field of white and red biotechnology and the optimization of the biocatalysts by site-specific and random mutagenesis.
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University of Gdansk, Poland

Prof. Tadeusz Kaczorowski (Leader of WP8 Activity screening and Characterization), Dr. Anna-Karina Kaczorowska
The University of Gdansk, the largest academic institution in Northern Poland holds the leading position in the country in areas such as Biotechnology, Biology and Chemistry. The main objective of the research groups is to study fundamental biological processes but also to exploit the properties of Prokaryotes for potential biotech applications
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Blaise-Pascal University, France

Dr. Francois Enault (Leader of WP5 Ecosystem Dynamics)
Laboratoire Microorganismes : Génome et Environnement is focused on metagenomics in different ecosystems (e.g. human gut, freshwater lakes, hypersalin ponds) and the study of diversity, ecology and evolution of the major viral families (small ssDNA viruses and Caudovirales).
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Bielefeld University, Germany

Prof. Jörn Kalinowski (Leader of WP3 Assembly and sorting), Dr. Alexander Sczyrba
The Center for Biotechnology at Bielefeld University integrates research projects and large scale research infrastructure in the field of Omics-driven biotechnology. It operates technology platforms entitled “Genomics” and “Bioinformatics”, the first one focusing on genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics. The second is operating large-scale computer hardware and creating bioinformatics software and workflows for Omics data analysis and Systems Biology
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University of Bergen; Norway

Dr. Ida Helen Steen (Leader of WP1 Environmental sampling), Prof. Ruth-Anne Sandaa, Dr. Håkon Dahle
UiB is the primary academic marine research organisation in Norway with key expertise in deep-sea research and marine microbiology. The Marine Microbiology Research group (MMR) at Department of Biology (BIO)-UiB has broad experience in marine microbial ecology, marine viruses, virus-host interactions, diversity and dynamics.
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Durham University, UK

Dr. Ehmke Pohl (Leader of P3 Protein Development), Dr. Stefanie Freitag-Pohl
Durham University, a distinct collegiate University founded on 1832, has an excellent worldwide reputation, evidenced by ranked 83rd in the Times Higher Education world rankings (2014) and 5th in the Complete University Guide 2016. The Chemistry Department with its particular focus on interdisciplinary research was ranked 2nd just behind Cambridge and topped the UK table for research impact in the 2014 Research Excellent Framework. The laboratories of the Biophysical Sciences Institute located in the Chemistry Department are well equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for all molecular and structural biology work in this project.
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Lund University, Sweden

Prof. Eva Nordberg-Karlsson (Leader of WP7 Protein Production), Dr. Javier A. Linares-Pastén
The division of Biotechnology is one of the largest divisions at Kemicentrum at Lund University. The research activities include areas such as enzyme technology, microbial technology, industrial biotechnology, bioseparation and bioanalysis.

Virus-X Funding

European Union Funding for Research and Innovation

Virus-X News & Blog

The Virus-X logo and team emblem explained

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The Virosphere – the last frontier

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Virus-X scientists explore extreme environments

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Virus-X in the Press

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