First of all, I would like to thank to Professor Detlev H. Krüger for giving me the opportunity to come to Berlin and work in his laboratory. I am very grateful for his support and supervision of my work. He has always been there with help or advice and ready for fruitful discussion.

I would like to thank to Dr. Helga Meisel and all members of her working group , Anne Endres, Stefanie Märschenz, Astrid Schories, and Heike Lerch, for creating enjoyable atmosphere and being always ready to help me. Brita Auste is especially acknowledged for her essential help and excellent technical skills. I am also thankful also to all the other colleagues from the Institute of Virology, Charité Berlin, who helped me during my work. Beate Ziaja is acknowledged for introducing me to the work under biosafety level 3 containment conditions.

I would like to thank Dr. Milan Labuda for his continuous support and stimulating discussions through e-mail and to his co-workers from the Department of Virus Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava for their help in collecting rodent samples. The contribution of our collaborating partners, Morten Schütt, Brian Hjelle, Maria Stankovicova, and Michal Stanko is greatly appreciated as well.

My special thanks goes to Heiko A. Schmidt who helped me a lot during my “baby steps” in phylogenetic analysis.

Last but not least, I am extremely grateful to my girlfriend Lenka, my parents, and brother Rasto for their constant love and support in many difficult situations during my stay in Berlin. I am also very thankful to all my new German friends who helped me to find a second home in Berlin.

I would like to dedicate this thesis to Dr. Oto Kozuch, the supervisor of my Diplom thesis who died shortly before I started this work.

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