The Scope, Causes and Consequences of Viral Diversity
The Microbiology Society annual conference held in Birmingham (UK) on 10-13 April 2018 featured an all-day symposium and half-day workshop on this exciting topic. This choice reflected the fact that sequencing is revealing the existence of huge numbers of viruses, many of which are related to agents that we recognise and many of which are totally new. This is evident in all parts of the living world and particularly in samples from exotic or unusual environments. As a result, we are gaining a completely new appreciation of the amazing diversity of viruses, the many ways in which they have evolved, and the important effects that they are having on the planet. Their overwhelming numbers are also making us consider how taxonomy can continue to provide a key context to virology.
These co-organised events added to the links between the ICTV and the Microbiology Society and involved several members of the ICTV Executive Committee (Andrew Davison, Peter Simmonds, Sandra Junglen and Alexander Gorbalenya), as well as other experts (Eugene Koonin, Karla Kirkegaard, Evelien Adriaenssens and Oliver Pybus). These prominent researchers in viral metagenomics, bioinformatics, evolution, phylodynamics and taxonomy explained a tremendously dynamic subject that is at the forefront of theoretical and experimental virology. Specially selected research papers from a diverse range of speakers interspersed the keynote talks and also populated the workshop.
The next Microbiology Society annual conference will take place in Belfast (UK) on 8-11 April 2019 (follow the events tab at microbiologysociety.org).