Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 90 | 31. Oktober 2023

Priority Programme “New Concepts in Prokaryotic Virus-Host Interactions – from Single Cells to Microbial Communities” (SPP 2330)

In 2020, the Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) established the Priority Programme “New Concepts in Prokaryotic Virus-Host Interactions – from Single Cells to Microbial Communities” (SPP 2330). The programme is designed to run for six years. The present call invites proposals for the second three-year funding period.

Scientific Programme

Viruses that prey on bacteria and archaea represent the most abundant biological entities on this planet. Over the last century, research using bacteriophages (viruses infecting bacteria) was the primary driving force in deciphering the molecular basis for life. In recent years, revolutionary discoveries on the biology of prokaryotic viruses opened up completely new horizons in phage research. These include the finding that viruses can use small molecules to make group-level decisions, the discovery of intracellular molecular complexes made by viruses that blur the boundary between prokaryotic and eukaryotic life, and the multitude of novel anti-viral immune systems acting at the unicellular and multicellular level. This impressively demonstrates the gigantic blind spots in our current understanding of the biology of prokaryotic viruses, which were revealed by studying viruses that are not traditionally perceived as model systems and by the application of modern technologies that have been developed after the first intense period of phage research decades ago.

The overall goal of this Priority Programme is to open up new horizons and opportunities for discovering fundamentally new concepts and mechanisms in biology by focusing on three scales of complexity of viral organisation: viral cell biology, new antiviral defence systems and viral impact on multispecies microbial communities.

Research Areas

Projects to be funded have to address one of the following aspects with a special emphasis on the discovery of new concepts in prokaryotic virus-host interaction:

  • Cellular organisation and regulation of the viral infection cycle, such as elucidation of key factors (proteins, RNAs or small molecules) involved in the spatiotemporal control of the viral infection cycle, viral communication and compartmentalisation.
  • Novel anti-viral defence systems (beyond CRISPR) in prokaryotes acting at the unicellular and multicellular levels as well as their interaction and complementation.
  • Viral impact on microbial communities, interaction with biofilms, co-evolutionary dynamics and prokaryotic virus-host networks.

Criteria for Proposals

Achieving the goals of this Priority Programme requires an interdisciplinary cooperation of researchers in molecular microbiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, mathematical modelling, imaging techniques as well as structural biology. To promote collaborations and conceptual coherence of this programme, projects should ideally meet the following criteria (if appropriate):

  • Focus on prokaryotic viruses featuring a fully functional life cycle; this criterion excludes work on the diverse forms of domesticated/cryptic prophages or gene transfer agents.
  • Hypothesis-driven research aiming at a mechanistic/molecular understanding of virus-host interactions; projects must not exclusively focus on phage therapy or perform descriptive studies on new isolates of prokaryotic viruses.
  • Projects on anti-viral strategies must focus on new defence systems (no mechanistic studies on CRISPR) or focus on an integrated view of the interaction between different lines of defence.
  • Projects focusing on tool development or metagenomics analysis need to be combined with experimental/mechanistic work for further functional analysis.
  • In case of cellular studies or studies on phage defence mechanisms, an appropriate phage-host system should already have been established (preferably with a genetically tractable host).

Proposals and CVs must be written in English and submitted to the DFG by 6 March 2024. Please note that proposals can only be submitted via elan, the DFG’s electronic proposal processing system.

Applicants must be registered in elan prior to submitting a proposal to the DFG. If you have not yet registered, please note that you must do so by 21 February 2024 to submit a proposal under this call; registration requests received after this time cannot be considered. You will normally receive confirmation of your registration by the next working day. Note that you will be asked to select the appropriate Priority Programme call during both the registration and the proposal process.

Applicants who already have an elan account are requested to check their data in elan. If necessary, you can update your data directly in the portal. It is not necessary to register again.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a new project within the existing Priority Programme, please go to Proposal Submission – New Project – Priority Programmes and select “SPP 2330/2 – Virus-host” from the current list of calls.

Previous applicants can submit a proposal for the renewal of an existing project under Proposal Submission – Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal.

Please note that you need to select your previous project first from the proposal overview in order to get access to submit a renewal proposal. Only then the already existing project data (e.g. title, duration) are preset, but can be changed if necessary. The aforementioned SPP selection does not apply because your project is already linked to the SPP.

In preparing your proposal, please review the programme guidelines (DFG form 50.05, section B) and follow the proposal preparation instructions (DFG form 54.01).

Please note that only project proposals can be accepted that follow the current DFG templates and their specifications:

  • For your project description, DFG form 53.01 applies for both new and renewal proposals.
  • For all CVs incl. publication lists, DFG form 53.200 is mandatory.

These forms can either be downloaded from our website or accessed through the elan portal.

At present, the plan is for all submitted proposals to be evaluated by a review panel in the course of a colloquium with oral project presentations/poster sessions which is anticipated to take place in Bonn at the DFG Head Office in May or June 2024.

All principal investigators will receive further information in due course.

The envisaged start of funding is October 2024.

The DFG strongly welcomes proposals from researchers of all genders and sexual identities, from different ethnic, cultural, religious, ideological or social backgrounds, from different career stages, types of universities and research institutions, and with disabilities or chronic illness.

Further Information

More information on the Priority Programme is available at:

For scientific enquiries please contact the Priority Programme coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Julia Frunzke
    Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
    Institut für Bio- und Geowissenschaften (IBG)
    Systemische Mikrobiologie (IBG-1)
    52425 Jülich
    phone +49 2461 615430

The elan system can be accessed at:

DFG forms 50.05, 54.01, 53.01, 53.200 and 1.91 can be downloaded at:

Questions on the DFG proposal process can be directed to:

For programme questions, please contact:

For administrative and elan queries, please contact:

DFG’s data protection notice on research funding:

Please note the DFG’s data protection notice on research funding. If necessary, please also forward this information to those individuals whose data will be processed by the DFG due to their involvement in your project: