Surprisingly little is known about how pathogens affect nematode populations. Only in 2011 the first natural virus (coined the Orsay virus) was described affecting natural populations of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.
This project aims to dissect the interactions between natural C. elegans populations and the Orsay virus by investigating natural variation in phenotypes, including genome-wide gene transcription regulation and associated polymorphic loci. Using RNA-sequencing in a newly generated state-of-the-art segregating population we will first study the plastic response to Orsay virus infection and identify novel gene expression regulators (expression-QTL or eQTL) and their interactions involved in dealing with virus attacks. These data will allow to investigate the evolutionary response by studying the sequences of polymorphic regions in the eQTL.