Event Title

Elbi and Stepo: Two Novel Cyanobacteriophages that Infect the Filamentous, Heterocyst-Forming Cyanobacterium Anabaena

Faculty Advisor

Richard Alvey

Graduation Year

2019

Location

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Start Date

13-4-2019 10:00 AM

End Date

13-4-2019 11:00 AM

Description

Cyanobacteria, a phylum of photosynthetic bacteria, play an important ecological role in aquatic environments by providing a source of fixed carbon and nitrogen that food webs rely heavily upon. Cyanophages are invisible viral parasites that infect cyanobacteria and help balance the dynamics of the cyanobacteria population. One cyanobacterium, Anabaena, is of special interest in cyanophage research due to its filamentous nature and its ability to form heterocysts, specialized nitrogen-fixing cells. A few Anabaena-infecting cyanophages were discovered and analyzed in the 1970s, but since then the field has remained understudied. Here, two novel cyanophages, Elbi and Stepo, that infect Anabaena were discovered and isolated. These two phages differ in both their morphology and plaque morphology. The double-stranded DNA genome of one of the phages was extracted, purified, and sent for sequencing. The sequence was analyzed and compared with previously published cyanophage genomes. Additionally, the infection process of both cyanophages was observed via time-lapse light microscopy. The results of this imaging suggest that cyanophage infection of Anabaena proceeds down the filament from one cell to the next and that heterocysts are resistant to either phage infection or the associated cell lysis.

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Apr 13th, 10:00 AM Apr 13th, 11:00 AM

Elbi and Stepo: Two Novel Cyanobacteriophages that Infect the Filamentous, Heterocyst-Forming Cyanobacterium Anabaena

Room E101, Center for Natural Sciences, Illinois Wesleyan University

Cyanobacteria, a phylum of photosynthetic bacteria, play an important ecological role in aquatic environments by providing a source of fixed carbon and nitrogen that food webs rely heavily upon. Cyanophages are invisible viral parasites that infect cyanobacteria and help balance the dynamics of the cyanobacteria population. One cyanobacterium, Anabaena, is of special interest in cyanophage research due to its filamentous nature and its ability to form heterocysts, specialized nitrogen-fixing cells. A few Anabaena-infecting cyanophages were discovered and analyzed in the 1970s, but since then the field has remained understudied. Here, two novel cyanophages, Elbi and Stepo, that infect Anabaena were discovered and isolated. These two phages differ in both their morphology and plaque morphology. The double-stranded DNA genome of one of the phages was extracted, purified, and sent for sequencing. The sequence was analyzed and compared with previously published cyanophage genomes. Additionally, the infection process of both cyanophages was observed via time-lapse light microscopy. The results of this imaging suggest that cyanophage infection of Anabaena proceeds down the filament from one cell to the next and that heterocysts are resistant to either phage infection or the associated cell lysis.