When: September 18, 2019 8AM PDT

Dates: Wed, Sept 18 8:00AM – 12:00PM PDT and Thurs, Sept 19 1:00PM – 5:00PM PDT

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is hosting a virtual Workshop Without Walls on Astrovirology to review and advance the science of understanding what a virus is, their origin, ecology, impact on evolution, and their role in exobiology as a biosignature.

This virtual workshop will be over two half-days to enabled global scientific exchange with no attendance costs or travel required. Topics covered will presented in a manner to reach a range of scientific understanding including students, researchers, educators, science writers, and members of the general public.

This virtual workshop will consist of presentations and time for questions or discussion periods, facilitated through an online multi-user video-conferencing system hosted by the technical facilities of the NAI.

To join the Zoom meeting:

Science Organizing Committee:
Gareth (Gary) Trubl, Lawrence Livermore National Lab,
Kathryn Bywaters, NASA Ames/SETI,
Kenneth Stedman, Portland State University,
Penelope Boston, NASA Ames,

Schedule: (talk length/time for questions)

Day 1 – Wednesday, September 18, 2019, 8:00AM – 12:00PM PDT
Theme: Origins and Evolution

8:00–8:30 | Welcome and Introductions | Penny Boston, Ken Stedman | 30/0

8:30–9:00 | Detecting Life Universally (in Water) | Steven Benner (Foundation For Applied Molecular Evolution, USA; | 20/10

9:00–9:30 | Small Circular DNA Viruses: The muddy “playground” of recombinant, reassortant, and highly diverse viruses | Arvind Varsani (Arizona State University, USA; | 20/10

9:30–10:00 | Viruses never do as they’re told, and there’s a good reason for it: bacteria-phage coevolution as a driver of diversity | Britt Koskella (University of California Berkeley, USA; | 20/10

10:00–10:30 | Viral symbiosis: New rules for pre-cellular evolutionary tempo and mode | Rachel Whitaker (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA; | 20/10

10:30–10:40 | Break

10:40–11:10 | Viral infection modes and invasion fitness across a continuum from lysis to latency | Joshua Weitz (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA; | 20/10

11:10–11:40 | Possibilities and pitfalls of expanded host range mutations. | T. Siobain Duffy (Rutgers University, USA; | 20/10

11:40–12:00 | Closing remarks | Ken Stedman | 10/10

Day 2 – Thursday, September 19, 2019, 1:00PM – 5:00PM PDT
Theme: Ecology and Exobiology

1:00–1:10 | Opening remarks | Ken Stedman | 10/0

1:10–1:50 | Virus taxonomy: What is it and why should I care? | Evelien Adriaenssens (Quadram Institute Bioscience, UK; | 30/10

1:50–2:20 | Astrovirology in marine systems: how virus-microbe interactions accelerate evolution and generate organismal diversity | Nigel Goldenfeld (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USA; | 20/10

2:20–3:00 | Viral ecogenomics: exploring viral diversity and virus-host interactions from metagenomes | Simon Roux (Joint Genome Institute, USA; | 30/10

3:00–3:30 | Using stable isotopes to track viruses in soils | Gary Trubl (Lawrence Livermore National Lab USA; | 20/10

3:30–3:40 | Break

3:40–4:10 | Life detection and viruses as biosignatures| Kathryn Bywaters (NASA Ames/SETI, USA; | 20/10

4:10–4:40 | Astrovirology – What’s missing | Ken Stedman (Portland State University, USA; | 20/10

4:40–5:00 | Acknowledgements | Penny Boston, Ken Stedman, Gary Trubl, Kathy Bywaters | 15/5

Workshop Resources:
What is Astrobiology
Astrobiology at NASA
NASA Astrobiology Institute
Ask an Astrobiologist Homepage
The History of Astrobiology
The Astrobiology Primer

Previous NASA Astrobiology Roadmap.

Suggested articles:

Benner, S.A., 2017. Detecting Darwinism from molecules in the Enceladus plumes, Jupiter’s moons, and other planetary water lagoons. Astrobiology, 17(9), pp.840-851.

Berliner, A.J., Mochizuki, T. and Stedman, K.M., 2018. Astrovirology: Viruses at large in the universe. Astrobiology, 18(2), pp.207-223.

Zhao, L., Seth-Pasricha, M., Stemate, D., Crespo-Bellido, A., Gagnon, J., Draghi, J. and Duffy, S., 2019. Existing host range mutations constrain further emergence of RNA viruses. Journal of virology, 93(4), pp.e01385-18.

Roux, S., Adriaenssens, E.M., Dutilh, B.E., Koonin, E.V., Kropinski, A.M., Krupovic, M., Kuhn, J.H., Lavigne, R., Brister, J.R., Varsani, A. and Amid, C., 2019. Minimum information about an uncultivated virus genome (MIUViG). Nature biotechnology, 37(1), p.29.

Kazlauskas, D., Varsani, A., Koonin, E.V. and Krupovic, M., 2019. Multiple origins of prokaryotic and eukaryotic single-stranded DNA viruses from bacterial and archaeal plasmids. Nature communications, 10(1), p.3425.

Weitz, J.S., Li, G., Gulbudak, H., Cortez, M.H. and Whitaker, R.J., 2019. Viral invasion fitness across a continuum from lysis to latency. Virus evolution, 5(1), p.vez006.

Koskella, B. and Brockhurst, M.A., 2014. Bacteria–phage coevolution as a driver of ecological and evolutionary processes in microbial communities. FEMS microbiology reviews, 38(5), pp.916-931.

Koskella, B., 2019. New approaches to characterizing bacteria–phage interactions in microbial communities and microbiomes. Environmental microbiology reports, 11(1), pp.15-16.

Gulbudak, H. and Weitz, J.S., 2019. Heterogeneous viral strategies promote coexistence in virus-microbe systems. Journal of theoretical biology, 462, pp.65-84.

Adriaenssens, E.M., Wittmann, J., Kuhn, J.H., Turner, D., Sullivan, M.B., Dutilh, B.E., Jang, H.B., van Zyl, L.J., Klumpp, J., Lobocka, M. and Switt, A.I.M., 2018.
Taxonomy of prokaryotic viruses: 2017 update from the ICTV Bacterial and Archaeal Viruses Subcommittee. Archives of virology, 163(4), pp.1125-1129.

Trubl, G., Jang, H.B., Roux, S., Emerson, J.B., Solonenko, N., Vik, D.R., Solden, L., Ellenbogen, J., Runyon, A.T., Bolduc, B. and Woodcroft, B.J., 2018. Soil viruses are underexplored players in ecosystem carbon processing. MSystems, 3(5), pp.e00076-18.

Emerson J.B., Roux S., Brum J.R., Bolduc B., Woodcroft B.J., Jang H-B., Singleton C.M., Solden L.M., Naas A.E., Boyd J.A., Hodgkins S.B., Wilson R.M., Trubl G., Li C., Frolking S., Pope P.B., Wrighton K.C., Crill P.M., Chanton J.P., Saleska S.R., Tyson G.W., Rich V.I., & Sullivan M.B. Host-linked soil viral ecology along a permafrost thaw gradient. Nature microbiology, 3(8), p.870.

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