Freshwater cyanobacteria perform a substantial part of the primary productivity of various aquatic systems worldwide. However these cyanobacteria can form blooms which can be toxic. In recent decades there has been an ongoing global increase in harmful cyanobacterial blooms. It is predicted that cyanobacterial dominance will intensify in the future. These blooms received substantial scientific and public attention due to their significant effect on the aquatic ecosystems they invade and on water quality. One of the agents that take part in the top-down control of cyanobacteria are phages (viruses of bacteria).
We study the web of interactions between cyanobacteria and their phages. We aim to answer questions such as: How does selection by phages affect the evolution of the cyanobacteria genomes? Does this selection take any part in shaping the size/structure of the cyanobacteria? What is the role of phages in enabling and/or restricting the cyanobacterial blooms? How can phages survive seasons with low cyanobacteria abundance? What are the molecular mechanisms that confer resistance to phages and what is their role in this ecosystem? What part does lysogeny and lateral gene transfer take in these interactions?