Event Title

Unlocking the Evolutionary Secrets of Xuper’s Host-Jumping Mechanisms

Faculty Advisor

Richard Alvey

Graduation Year

2021

Location

Center for Natural Sciences

Start Date

4-4-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

4-4-2020 10:00 AM

Description

With growing pandemics of viral-associated illnesses, such as coronavirus, there is an increasing concern with our lack of understanding of how viruses infect, interact with, and jump between hosts. Just as natural selection has shaped the evolution of all living things on Earth, viruses evolve as well. We observed this phenomenon with Xuper, a novel bacteriophage isolated and characterized using the host Rhodobacter capsulatus, a bacterium found in freshwater ecosystems. Our research has shown that Xuper infects not only R. capsulatus but also Ruegeria pomeroyi, a bacterium found in marine environments. To study how Xuper adjusts to this alternative host, we generated several R. pomeroyi-adapted Xuper isolates after three rounds of plating and then identified mutation sites possibly involved in host-range expansion through genomic analyses. Our findings highlighted two DNA regions, one associated with viral tail proteins and another involved in lysis control, that consistently change with cultivation on the marine host. Additionally, in order to determine other areas of genomic variation, we performed a longer-term selection of Xuper on R. pomeroyi. Next, we plan to isolate the imperative mutation sites and insert them into other phages to further study the mechanisms of host-range expansion.

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Apr 4th, 9:00 AM Apr 4th, 10:00 AM

Unlocking the Evolutionary Secrets of Xuper’s Host-Jumping Mechanisms

Center for Natural Sciences

With growing pandemics of viral-associated illnesses, such as coronavirus, there is an increasing concern with our lack of understanding of how viruses infect, interact with, and jump between hosts. Just as natural selection has shaped the evolution of all living things on Earth, viruses evolve as well. We observed this phenomenon with Xuper, a novel bacteriophage isolated and characterized using the host Rhodobacter capsulatus, a bacterium found in freshwater ecosystems. Our research has shown that Xuper infects not only R. capsulatus but also Ruegeria pomeroyi, a bacterium found in marine environments. To study how Xuper adjusts to this alternative host, we generated several R. pomeroyi-adapted Xuper isolates after three rounds of plating and then identified mutation sites possibly involved in host-range expansion through genomic analyses. Our findings highlighted two DNA regions, one associated with viral tail proteins and another involved in lysis control, that consistently change with cultivation on the marine host. Additionally, in order to determine other areas of genomic variation, we performed a longer-term selection of Xuper on R. pomeroyi. Next, we plan to isolate the imperative mutation sites and insert them into other phages to further study the mechanisms of host-range expansion.