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Sarit Avrani



Phone: +972-4-8240617

Office location: Multi-Purpose Building, room 80



Research Interests:

We study the interactions between freshwater cyanobacteria and their phages (viruses) and grazers. Bloom-forming cyanobacteria are an increasing global phenomenon that negatively impacts aquatic environments worldwide. These blooms are formed by multicellular cyanobacteria. These cyanobacteria can be controlled by various viruses and grazers. These predators apply different, at times contradictory, top-down selective pressures. We are interested in the implications of these interactions on the genome evolution and ecology of the cyanobacteria. We aim to answer questions such as: How does selection by phages or/and grazers affect the evolution of cyanobacterial genomes? Does this selection take any part in shaping the size/structure of the cyanobacteria? What part does lysogeny and lateral gene transfer take in these interactions? In order to answer such questions, we will use whole genome sequencing and comparative expression assays as well as physiological characterization using fluorescence/electron microscopy and microbiological and molecular biology methods.


Specific research interests:

  1. How do bloom-forming cyanobacteria adapt to the contradictory selective pressures imposed on them by phages (viruses) and eukaryotic predators?
  2. Predator-prey/host-parasite dynamics in cyanobacteria populations in seasonal aquatic environments.
  3. How does multicellularity affect the interactions between cyanobacteria and their phages?


Selected publications:

  1. Avrani S., E. Bolotin, S. Katz, and R. Hershberg. 2017. Rapid genetic adaptation during the first four months of survival under resource exhaustion. Molecular Biology and Evolution 34 (7): 1758-1769.
  2. Avrani S. and D. Lindell. 2015. Convergent evolution towards an improved growth rate and a reduced resistance range in Prochlorococcus strains resistant to phage. PNAS 112: 2191– 2200.
  3. Dekel-Bird N.P., Avrani, G. Sabehi, I. Pekarsky, M.F. Marston, S. Kirzner, and D. Lindell. 2013. Diversity and evolutionary relationships of T7-like podoviruses infecting marine cyanobacteria. Environmental Microbiology 15(5): 1476-1491.
  4. Avrani* S., D.A. Schwartz*, and D. Lindell. 2012. Virus-host swinging party in the oceans: Incorporating biological complexity into paradigms of antagonistic coexistence. Mobile Genetic Elements 2(2): 88-95. *equal contribution.
  5. Avrani S., R. Ben-Shlomo and M. Inbar. 2012. Cryptic speciation along the fragmented Irano-Turanian distribution zone: Phylogeography of Pistacia atlantica and its galling aphids. Tree Genetics & Genomes 8(4): 811-820.
  6. Avrani S., O. Wurtzel, I. Sharon, R. Sorek, and D. Lindell. 2011. Genomic island variability facilitates Prochlorococcus-virus coexistence. Nature 474: 604-608.
    This paper was highlighted in News and Views of this issue: Partensky F. & L. Garczarek. 2011. Arms race in a drop of sea water. Nature 474: 582-583.