Biological Sciences, School of


First Advisor

James L. Van Etten

Second Advisor

Jennifer E. Markham

Date of this Version



Rose, S. (2015). A lipidomics approach to the viral-host dynamics of the unicellular, eukaryotic alga Chlorella variabilis and its viral pathogen, PBCV-1.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell, and Molecular Biology), Under the Supervision of Professors James L. Van Etten and Jennifer E. Markham. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Suzanne L. Rose


This thesis focuses on the sterol and sphingolipid composition in the unicellular, green alga Chlorella variabilis and the lipidomic changes that occur during viral infection. Using lipid analysis by mass spectrometry, we have identified the major sterol, ergosterol and sphingolipid, glucosyl inositol phosphoceramide (GIPC) as constituents of C. variabilis cell membranes. Sterols and sphingolipids have essential biological functions such as hormone-based signaling, plant defense, and apoptosis as well as critical roles in structural components of the cell and organelle membranes. In chapters two and three, we focus on the characterization of sterol composition among both freshwater and marine alga and the GIPC structure among Chlorophytes, respectively, and the divergence of these lipids between fungi and plants. It is evident, given the current research in pathogenic lipidomics, that lipids play significant roles at many junctures of host-pathogen interactions. Viruses have been shown to exploit host membranes and their components such as sterols and sphingolipids during their infection cycle including attachment and entry, replication, protein sorting, viral assembly, and budding. We conclude with chapter four, describing the lipid composition of the host-acquired PBCV-1 internal membrane and the effect of viral infection on lipid biogenesis in C. variabilis.

Advisors: James L. Van Etten and Jonathan E. Markham