Beyond CRISPR: anti-phage defense in the wild


The evolutionary pressure imposed by phage predation on bacteria and archaea has resulted in the development of effective anti-phage defense mechanisms, among which is the CRISPR system. While most bacterial species are thought to be exposed to phage attacks, CRISPR is present in less than 50% of all bacteria. The talk will describe strategies for systematic elucidation of new defense systems that protect bacteria against phage, and how such systems can become useful biotechnological tools.


Prof. Rotem Sorek received his PhD in Human Genetics from Tel Aviv University on 2006. Between the years 2006-2008 he conducted post-doctoral studies at the Berkeley National Laboratories in Berkeley, CA, and on 2008 he joined the Weizmann Institute of Science.
Prof. Sorek’s investigates CRISPR-Cas, the adaptive “immune” system that bacteria use to defend themselves against viruses, as well as additional, new anti-viral defense systems discovered at the Sorek lab. His studies recently discovered that viruses can use small molecules to communicate among themselves and coordinate the dynamics of infection.
Prof. Sorek is a co-inventor of 40 patents and patent applications and has received numerous prestigious awards, including the 2006 RNA Society/Scaringe Young Scientist Award, the 2008 Sir Charles Clore Prize, the 2012 Rubinowitz-Grossman Prize for outstanding young scientists and the 2014 FEBS Anniversary Prize. Sorek was recently elected to the European Academy of Microbiology.