My thesis defence announcement has been made to the department!
Reassortment is a reticulate evolutionary process that results in genome shuffling; the most prominent virus known to reassort is the influenza A virus. Methods to identify reassortant influenza viruses do not scale well beyond hundreds of isolates at a time, because they rely on phylogenetic reconstruction, a computationally expensive method. This thus hampers our ability to test systematically whether reassortment is associated with host switching events. In this thesis, I use phylogenetic heuristics to develop a new reassortment detection algorithm capable of finding reassortant viruses in tens of thousands viral isolates. Together with colleagues, we then use the algorithm to test whether reassortment events are over-represented in host switching events and whether reassortment is an alternative 'transmission strategy' for viral persistence.