Today, Karin Holmfeldt, researcher in marine microbiology at Linnaeus University, was awarded a scholarship of SEK 100,000 from the hands of his majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. She was awarded the scholarship for her studies of how viruses change the behavior of bacteria.
"This feels really great and will open new possibilities for me to continue my research on how marine viruses affect the metabolism of bacteria, which is still a relatively unexplored field of research", Karin Holmfeldt explains.
Each litre of sea water contains roughly 10 billion viruses, but instead of making people and animal sick these viruses infect mainly bacteria. Despite the fact that these viruses make up the world's largest gene pool, and have a major impact on bacteria, we know relatively little about them.
"Still today, we actually don't know anything about how viruses affect the metabolism of marine bacteria. What we do know, however, is that bacteria play a key role in the ecological cycles of our oceans. Bacteria are the fundamental organisms in all carbon and nutrition cycles, making the ecosystem go round, for instance through decomposition of algal bloom. Therefore, it is important to understand how viruses affect bacteria", says Karin Holmfeldt.
The money from the scholarship will, among other things, be used to purchase equipment that makes it possible to study the RNA of viruses and their host bacteria. In this way, Karin Holmfeldt hopes to be able to contribute with completely new knowledge about how viruses change the behavior and global nutrition webs of bacteria.
Karin Holmfeldt is part of the prominent research centre Linnaeus University Centre for Ecology and Evolution in Microbial model Systems, EEMiS