Paul E. Turner (Yale) 1: Introduction to Virus Ecology and Evolution

Part 1: Introduction to Virus Ecology and Evolution: Dr. Paul Turner describes the fundamental biology of viruses, how they interact with their host organisms, and how they might have originally evolved long ago.

Part 2: Virus Adaptation to Environmental Change: Turner’s laboratory uses experimental evolution to study how viruses adapt to environmental changes.

Part 3: Phage Therapy: Turner provides an introduction to phage therapy, and how it can be improved by applying ‘evolution thinking’.

Talk Overview:
In his first lecture, Dr. Paul Turner describes the fundamental biology of viruses, how they interact with their host organisms, and how they might have originally evolved long ago. He provides an overview of the many reasons why viruses might be considered the most biologically successful inhabitants of earth, including their ability to rapidly reproduce, and adapt to environmental challenges. Turner explains how viruses have impacted human history, as well as earth’s history, due to their prevalent interactions with other species.

Viruses have an incredible capacity to adapt to environmental challenges, but sometimes, the environment constraints viral adaptation. Turner’s laboratory uses experimental evolution to study how viruses adapt to environmental changes (e.g. temperature changes), and the mechanisms by which viruses jump to novel host species. Turner’s work suggests that viruses with greater capacities to block the innate immune systems of their hosts, also have a greater likelihood of emerging on new host species. Also, he describes how virus adaptation to environmental change may be constraints by trade-offs: viruses can evolve either greater reproduction or greater survival, but not both simultaneously.

Before antibiotics were discovered, scientists were using viruses of bacteria, bacteriophages, to treat bacterial infections in humans. Given the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, scientists are revisiting the idea of using phage therapy to treat infections. In his third lecture, Turner provides an introduction to phage therapy, and how it can be improved by applying ‘evolution thinking’. His laboratory discovered phage OMKO1 that can treat multi-drug resistant bacteria in human patients while causing these bacteria to evolve greater sensitivity to antibiotics.

Speaker Biography:
Dr. Paul Turner is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, and holds an appointment in the Microbiology Program at Yale School of Medicine. His laboratory studies how viruses evolutionarily adapt to overcome environmental challenges, such as temperature changes or infection of novel host species. Turner received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Rochester in 1988, and completed his graduate studies in microbial ecology and evolution at Michigan State University in 1995. Learn more about Dr. Turner’s research here:

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Comment (211)

  1. Evolution contradicts the laws of THERMODYNAMICS and the principle of IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY.
    Evolution is not a reasonable explanation therefore it is not even a hypothesis nor a theory. It is totally unscientific.

  2. 2:55 and if the DNA and/or RNA needs protection how did it come into existence in the first place?
    (and more to the point how did it exist long enough to create even the simplest ecosphere)
    10:10 oops there is the problem with a "virosphere" they need the higher life forms to reproduce if we don't have evidence for replication sans archaea, bacteria or eukaryotes
    I have no doubts with regard to natural selection of variants for local conditions; however, mutation is much more debatable: the result of damaged DNA/RNA is seldom if ever mutation but extinction. The variant is the one which already had a workaround in its on board arsenal (or library if you prefer) Meyer argues in "Darwin's Doubt" that information is not generated by random chance and he makes a very good argument – to me this all looks like machinery, sophisticated beyond our ability to even perceive (until we used the right filtration for instance) let alone comprehend. I have three questions:

    1) what is the purpose of the virus? merely to reproduce?
    2) what is the function of the virus? does it liberate energy or matter that it can trade? or is it simply an evil parasite
    3) what are the implications of viral rewrites on our DNA we have begun using this technique did we invent it? I doubt that.

    (I once proposed a story line where influenza was actually our genome getting the latest updates)

  3. Well, there has to be a correction, actually the spanish flu is the perfect example for mass tourism-it just happened to be the first world war.

  4. So what is the evidence that viruses have evolued in the Darwinian sense? After the mutations that enables them to adapt to new circumstances, they still are – yes – viruses. Wouldn't it be more honest to speak of adaptation, just as Professor Turner adtually did a couple of times?

  5. EXCELLENT, if not an amazing presentation! Thank you!!! I wonder to what degree we humans can affect whether the Viruses' effect will be positive or negative. I am not only referring to washing hands and other hygienic actions but the energy we hold, be it positive or negative.

  6. Re: Corona-virus- why is no one talking about the heat sensitivity of a virus' envelope? we get fevers when sick to burn up invading bacteria and viruses. A steamroom, sauna and even a very hot bath can raise one's temp to destroy the virus.Why are we not hearing about this cheap, effective and readily available remedy?

  7. 6:08 "that might have predated cellular life altogether."
    Aren't all viruses obligate intracellular parasites? They don't add any energy to a system, so how could they exist before their hosts?

  8. The bit about Darwin can be dismissed. His evolutionary theory is outdated. It only explains minor adaptions, not body plans and phylae. It is not yet a successful explanation for biodiversity and the origin of life. Minor adaptions are interesting but it is impossible to scale them up to dimensions that "create" life. Many observers before Darwin had discovered the adaptive ability inherent in all life forms. No one took the blindfold jump into the evolutionary abyss as Darwin did. He could not land his theory in reality as we observe it experimentally or mathematically.

  9. Thinking because Virions depend on cells it is impossible for them to predate cells. More likely some freak side-effect of cell interplay made virions. Maybe some cell got coated with binding antibodies by mistake to form a protein coat ? I dont know.

  10. Maybe I'm misinterpreting his language but it sounds as though Dr. Turner is suggesting that viruses are living organisms. He repeatedly refers to viruses as "biological", talks about their "biodiversity" and "biological success".
    There is some good information in this presentation but one must be objective and carefully apply their "personal filter" while watching this material. This may be a case of someone making their personal opinion part of a field of study and then impressing those views on an interested layman audience.

  11. You can't be, called: Paul? You need, Joseph– as middle name = Hawaiian ENG'LISH'!
    Evoluts– You consented, Satan. The adversary? You teach, terrorism. Titark= a female terrorist, taught– a man's, watch station. Evol!

  12. Thank you Paul … its true , the Perseus cluster is a long ways away, and getting further away every second due to expansion … light year bout 6 trillion miles, so Perseus is approx. 1,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles … that is a long ways away, agreed

  13. Thank you for your expertise and explanation of viruses.

    It would seem that viruses came from each of various cells that became part of each species of life on earth. Without living cells with DNA there would be no viruses. Viruses are basically waste protein and DNA/RNA that remains active while infecting an organism.

    Could the mismatch between DNA in other organisms and that within viruses be because the proteins that that are shed from parts of the DNA of organisms do not take shed all elements of its structure with the strip of strands of DNA or RNA? Because remember that without a living biological host a virus would not remain animated or viable for long. So in prehistoric times before cellular life arose, there would be viruses that would not have had any living cellular hosts to prolonged their existence and viability.

    It seems likely that the first proteins that later became or went viral were those that cellular life naturally sheds due to various reasons, like adaptation and stresses. So single cells would only be slightly older than the proteins they release that became viruses. When they first became viral in a given organism is probably not able to be known.

    Could it be that viruses generally outnumber cellular lifeforms because each and every life form that has ever lived and will ever live is of proteins and DNA and constantly sheds strands as waste in numbers that has the potential to be viral? I only see these particles of protein with DNA/RNA as viruses when they become viral and harmful. When these organisms are not harmful I simply see them as particles of protein with the force of life and DNA/RNA in them. Calling them viruses, even when they are harmless, has a negative connotation that makes it seem that they are always harmful.

  14. Peridex people prior to entering all hospitals, Dr. offices, airports, places where people are closely grouped. Mask hair stylists. People shouldn’t touch their eyes, the most common route of inoculation. Patientswill decrease viral load. Peridex disinfects saliva aerosols. That’s my good deed for the day. Dr. Gruber

  15. Back when I was in college it would cost several hundred to thousands of dollars to register for a graduate class that was not as informative or well instructed as this video….

  16. There were between 60-100 million native Americans pre-1492. 90% of them died of smallpox. If Hawaii is now counted even greater, Alaska, and Easter Island are assumed in the base calculation. Death rate was between 90-95%. Possibly 80,000,000 deaths from smallpox among native Americans alone. That is more than a decimation by along shot.

  17. An evolutionary tree is ridiculous. The Creator God of the Bible created everything perfect after the 6 days of Creation. Everything and Everything is not related to a common ancestor or LUCA. It’s a fairytale told to adults! Creation was 6000 years ago. In 6 days of Creation week. The Fall and the beginning of death disease and pain was a result of our ancestors of all of us …Adam and Eve. The Fall probably within a month of Creation because Eve was not yet pregnant. We don’t come from goo to you via the zoo ! Nonsense and unscientific in the extreme. The Global Flood year was 1656 years after Creation. The one and only Ice Age a result of the calming down of the earth now separated into 7 Continents. The Bible suggests one land mass originally. Read the Bible and find out true history and don’t believe evolutionary speculative evolution stories . Go to CMI website

  18. 'I Think This Is The Beginning of The End of The Pandemic': Doc Claims Chloroquine Is Highly Effective

    Nicole Saphier, MD ✔ NBSaphierMD

    Dr. Stephen Smith, an infectious disease specialist, on using hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin combo to treat #COVID19 patients:

    “It’s a game changer. It’s an absolute game changer. … I think this is the beginning of the end of the #pandemic. I’m very serious.”

    This treatment had been used in Korea but they included zinc, a well known anti-viral. A doctor in France dropped the zinc and treated his patients. Dr Oz copied the French doctor and treated people in NYC. A video made by a doctor at the Medmastery channel posted a video on 3-17-2020 explaining why zinc was crucial part of the treatment.

    COVID-19 Update 8: Zinc and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19

    Chloroquine has been around since 1945 and has been deemed safe. Zinc lozenges have been available over the counter in drug stores since I was a child and maybe even before that. So we have a cure and now all we have to do is to get state governors and local medical establishments to listen to our demands to stop this plague Now. No more studies. Hydroxychloroquine AND zinc.

  19. The fatty unhealthy looking uncle talked about an ancient virusphere.
    Here the question:
    How could viruses have been around even before the Bacteria and Archaea inhabited the world?
    Did viruses not always need hosts to be able to multiply?

  20. I think we are in the infant stages of our knowledge of molecular biology even considering the fact that we can alter viruses and change the way they impact a host. The natural progression is to engineer virus that use the lysogenic cycle for replication to change the host into something different. Right now 5-8% of our DNA are infused with virus DNA. It's only a matter of time before a lab works to alter the entire structure of a host and create a new, or enhanced host creature through viral infection. I don't know what the laws are regarding viral research, but I do know. Governments will not obey laws if they believe they can do something in secret. Every Government with this type of capability will be saying if we don't do the research someone else will and then we'll be behind the curve and the other country will have the advantage. This is Pandora's box and man is determined to pry it open. It will happen. It's man's inherent nature.

  21. As a layman, I almost fell asleep.
    My suggestion : Don't use fancy imaging and rely more on what this guy is trying to explain.
    At least, if you care to convey this to the general viewer on YouTube.
    Maybe, this is more for the academic.

  22. so the slide at 14:32
    are they relative sizes?
    at least show them on the correct scale
    and even the biggest virus Pithovirus
    is still smaller than e. coli
    the lecture is great
    but whoever picked that graphic needs to hang their head

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  26. What if you counted each cell rather then the cellular entity as one. Also if a virus exist through using cells as a whome for breeding, than how could they have existed before cell's existed?

  27. I specifically like how you repeatedly state and refer to virus as "nucleic acid surrounded by a capsid." It very much helps to remind everyone that viruses are not inherently living organisms, they are by all means inanimate themselves, and that the modern farce is entirely propagated by the people simply seeing that it has a capsid so they take that to mean that it's "a living being" when it is not. And nucleic acid generally does get protein capsid stuck to it when leaving the cell which is what we call exocytosis.


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