Slovenian Researcher Gets €2.2mn ERC Grant for Bacteriophage Project

By , 11 Jan 2022, 11:44 AM Made in Slovenia
Slovenian Researcher Gets €2.2mn ERC Grant for Bacteriophage Project YouTube

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STA, 10 January 2022 - The European Research Council (ERC) has granted EUR 2.2 million in funding to the project PHAGECONTROL - Development of Host Manipulation by Bacteriophage, led by Anna Dragoš from the Biotechnical Faculty at the University of Ljubljana, a prominent researcher in the field of virus-bacteria interaction.

Out of the total funding awarded, around EUR 700,000 will be allocated for a precision microscope, which will be used to study viruses that enter bacteria and change their properties by inserting viral DNA into bacterial DNA.

Some of the altered properties of bacteria may be beneficial for humans, while others may change from harmless bacteria to pathogens. The project will establish new methods and create new molecular tools to study virus transmission, which could also improve predictions of the spread of epidemics in the future.

"We will study how viruses can change the behaviour of bacteria in the first phase, the second phase will cover the molecular mechanisms responsible for these changes, and in the third phase, we will test whether viruses change the behaviour of bacteria because they are cooperating or because they are manipulators," Dragoš explained.

"There is great potential in this project to discover a significant part of the genetic 'black box' of viruses, as well as new antimicrobial compounds carried by viruses. These could eventually find medical applications, for example as alternatives to antibiotics," she added.

Dragoš is the third University of Ljubljana researcher that managed to secure an ERC grant for her project. The first one was awarded in 2011 to Nedjeljka Žagar, a researcher in the field of meteorology, and the second one went to Marta Verginella from the Faculty of Arts in 2016.

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