Viruses that infect bacteria (i.e., bacteriophages) are the most abundant biological entities on earth and the selective pressures imposed by these pervasive predators have a profound impact on the composition and the behavior of microbial communities in every ecological setting. Our work aims to understand the mechanisms that bacteria use to defend themselves from phage infection and counter mechanisms that phages use to subvert bacterial immune systems. Recently we identified structural homology between anti-CRISPRs proteins and Cas proteins in the systems that they suppress, which implies that cas genes may sometimes serve as genetic fodder for the evolution of anti-CRISPRs.
Evolutionary Outcomes of CRISPR-Anti-CRISPR Conflict
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Montana State University