Anouk Willemsen

Foto von Anouk Willemsen

© Alejandro Manzano Marin

"The sympatric lifestyle of giant viruses: contact tracing and fitness through mobile genetic elements": Giant viruses reproduce in unicellular organisms and are characterised by their enormous size, which is similar to that of bacteria, as well as by their genetic configuration, which is unusual for viruses. In her ERC Starting Grant project CHIMERA, Anouk Willemsen will combine laboratory experiments and bioinformatic approaches to better understand how giant viruses have obtained their complex genomes. In particular, she will investigate the role of mobile genetic elements. These mobile genetic elements will help her trace the evolutionary history of this unique group of viruses. The overall goal is to gain insights into the molecular dialogue between viruses, bacteria and their hosts. Anouk Willemsen has devoted her career to the study of virus evolution. Her goal is to improve our understanding of viral genome organisation as well as virus-host interactions. She joined the Centre for Microbiology and Environmental Systems Science (CMESS) at the University of Vienna as a postdoc in 2020 with a Marie Skłodowska-Curie (MSCA) Fellowship. At CMESS, she is working on giant viruses together with Matthias Horn's research group. Her research project ist funded by an ERC Starting Grant amounting to 1.5 million euros.