Santiago Elena

I always like to say that we work in the multidisciplinary edge between evolutionary biology and virology. In general, my scientific interests are related with the evolutionary biology of microbes.  More concretely, this interest is focused in the study of the mechanisms that generate and maintain the genetic variability of RNA viruses and how they adapt to their hosts.  Just to mention some of the topics we are now working on: mutational effects on fitness and virulence, evolution of virulence under different demographic conditions and transmission schemes, adaptation to new hosts, fitness trade-offs and manipulation of host’s gene expression, evolution of genetic robustness in RNA genomes, the suppression of RNA silencing as a viral strategy to overcome plant defences, and synergistic interactions between coevolving viruses.  I have also been exploring the endless potential of digital organisms as model systems for evolutionary studies.  And finally, to avoid missing the wave of Systems Biology we are now developing mathematical models to describe how viruses interact with the regulatory and protein-protein networks of their hosts.