Anna Carratala Ripolles
During my PhD, I mainly focused on characterizing the effect of environmental factors (namely temperature and sunlight) and disinfectants on the mortality of human viral pathogens as contaminants of aquatic environments. In addition, thanks to a research fellowship given by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology, I also had the opportunity to explore the diversity of marine viruses in Mediterranean coastal waters by genetic fingerprinting and by next generation sequencing. Later on, I became interested in the long-term effect of environmental stressors on virus communities, so I joined the LCE as a postdoc to investigate the adaptation of enteroviruses to ultraviolet radiation. In the last 4 years, I have worked on developing UV-resistant viruses and characterizing their acquired phenotypic and genetic properties by combining directed evolution experiments, deep sequencing and computational biology. Out of the lab, I am passionate about scuba diving, traveling and spending time with my family and friends.
As an independent researcher in the LCE, my mission is to understand how biotic and abiotic interactions shape the genetic and functional diversity, ecology and evolution of viruses in the aquatic ecosystems. The ultimate goal of my research is to anticipate the response of viral communities (including waterborne viral pathogens) to natural and anthropogenic perturbations, such as climate change, in order to design successful remediation and control strategies.
My current research is focused on two major projects:
(I) Effect of climate adaptation on the diversity, ecology and dissemination of aquatic viruses.
Due to their high mutation rates, short generation times and high population numbers, viruses are able to rapidly adapt to multiple stressors such as antiviral drugs. In recent years, many efforts have been addressed to characterize the mechanisms affecting virus evolution and the development of resistance against antivirals. Conversely, the processes influencing the adaptation of viruses to environmental factors such as climate remain largely unknown.
We are currently living a period of climatic changes (e.g. global warming and acidification of aquatic ecosystems), and consequently, we expect important changes in the dynamics of aquatic viruses and waterborne pathogens. In order to be better prepared for the biological consequences of climate change, there is the urgent need to understand how climatic variations influence the ecology of water-related viruses.
Given this context, we are conducting multiple studies aiming to: (i) elucidate the effect of environmental variables (temperature and sunlight) on the (experimental) evolution of human enterovirus, (ii) identify the genetic signatures and mechanisms linked to the adaptation of aquatic bacteriophages and human enteroviruses to environmental variation, and (iii) evaluate the effect of climatic variables on the biogeography, epidemiology and movement of waterborne viruses (namely, hepatitis E genotypes 1 and 2) at a global scale. To develop these studies, we combine classical experimental virology with underwater robotics (in collaboration with the DISAL laboratory at EPFL), landscape genomics (in collaboration with the LASIG group at EPFL) and computational biology
(II) Insights on the ecological interactions between viruses and heterotrophic nanoflagellates.
In aquatic ecosystems, grazing of bacteria by heterotrophic nanoflagellates is one of the major causes of bacterial mortality. While it is known that virus populations are also challenged by grazing, the specific mechanisms determining the importance, preying preferences and dependence on environmental factors are not well understood. In this project, we are characterizing the removal of autochthonous bacteriophages and contaminant human viruses from marine and freshwater environments by grazers. In addition, we are investigating the influence of abiotic factors on such microbial interactions. The main aim of this project is to unravel the biological mechanisms leading to virus mortality in aquatic environments and to shed light on the effect of natural factors and pollutants on the interactions between viruses and other microorganisms. We are also exploring the potential emergence of grazing-resistance among our virus populations.
Fields of expertise
Environmental microbiology and virology
Ecology and diversity of human viruses
Directed experimental evolution of microorganisms
Water quality and disinfection
Photoinactivation of microorganisms
|Research scientist||Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry||EPFL||from April 2017.|
|Postdoctoral researcher||Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry||EPFL||2013-2017|
|Research internship||Laboratory of Integrative Biology of Marine Organisms (BIOM)||Observatoire Océanologique Banyuls sur Mer, France||February-October 2012.|
|Research internship||Laboratory for Zoonoses and Environmental Microbiology||National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands||July 2011.|
|Research internship||Laboratory of Compared and Environmental Virology||Institute Oswaldo Cruz. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||July 2010.|
|PhD student||Laboratory of viral contaminants||University of Barcelona||2008-2013|
|Ph.D. Environmental Microbiology||University of Barcelona||2008-2013|
|Master Advanced Microbiology||Biology||2007-2008|
|Degree Biology||University of Barcelona||2001-2007|
|Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver||2008-2017|