Mailing address: University of Waterloo: Biology 1 – 377B, 200 University Ave. W. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3G1
Office: Biology 1, room 377B, University of Waterloo
Speaker: Prof. Lindi Wahl, Department of Applied Mathematics, Western University
Abstract: Genome sequencing has revealed an unexpected prevalence of viral genes in the DNA of many higher organisms, including bacterial strains that carry over twenty full viral genomes, or humans who carry intact viral sequences from ancient epidemics. We use both stochastic and deterministic approaches to study the evolutionary dynamics of this proviral DNA, with a focus on the impact of provirus in bacterial genomes. Our work predicts that novel mutations are much more likely to survive and spread if they first occur in the proviral state. We also find that an archive of viral genes in bacterial DNA can drive waves of innovation in a bacterial population. Finally, we use data-fitting to better understand the processes that impact the size distribution of viral sequences. Our overall goal is to better understand the evolutionary potential and impact of this prevalent and fascinating class of mobile genetic elements.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.