Faculty Advisor

Richard Alvey

Graduation Year

2021

Location

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

21-4-2018 9:00 AM

End Date

21-4-2018 10:00 AM

Description

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect and replicate in bacteria, are the most abundant biological entities in the biosphere. Despite their prevalence, the evolutionary relationships between these viruses as well as the functions of many phage genes remain unknown. This is largely due to the fact that only a relatively small number of bacteriophages have been isolated compared to the estimated 1031 phage particles that exist in the world. The goal of this study was to characterize and genomically analyze a new phage in order to learn more about its unique features, as well as explore the vastly diverse evolutionary relationships of these viruses. In our investigation, we isolated Xuper from an environmental water sample using the bacterial host Rhodobacter capsulatus. A series of experiments were performed, including host range testing, lysogen/immunity testing, transmission electron microscopy, and DNA sequencing. Through this analysis, Xuper was found to have features not found in previously characterized R. capsulatus phages, including an unusual morphology, numerous tRNAs in its genome, and the largest genome of all R. capsulatus phages isolated thus far. Based on the distinctive morphology and genome, we concluded that Xuper is a singleton (exclusive member of its own cluster). These findings help to provide a greater understanding of the genetic diversity and complex nature of these seemingly simple biological entities.

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Apr 21st, 9:00 AM Apr 21st, 10:00 AM

Newly Discovered Phage Xuper: Single Ready to Mingle with Rhodobacter Capsulatus

Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect and replicate in bacteria, are the most abundant biological entities in the biosphere. Despite their prevalence, the evolutionary relationships between these viruses as well as the functions of many phage genes remain unknown. This is largely due to the fact that only a relatively small number of bacteriophages have been isolated compared to the estimated 1031 phage particles that exist in the world. The goal of this study was to characterize and genomically analyze a new phage in order to learn more about its unique features, as well as explore the vastly diverse evolutionary relationships of these viruses. In our investigation, we isolated Xuper from an environmental water sample using the bacterial host Rhodobacter capsulatus. A series of experiments were performed, including host range testing, lysogen/immunity testing, transmission electron microscopy, and DNA sequencing. Through this analysis, Xuper was found to have features not found in previously characterized R. capsulatus phages, including an unusual morphology, numerous tRNAs in its genome, and the largest genome of all R. capsulatus phages isolated thus far. Based on the distinctive morphology and genome, we concluded that Xuper is a singleton (exclusive member of its own cluster). These findings help to provide a greater understanding of the genetic diversity and complex nature of these seemingly simple biological entities.