Title of Presentation

Uncovering the Genetic Mechanisms Behind Host-Range Phenotypes in Related Rhodobacter capsulatus Bacteriophages

Type of Submission

Synchronous Research Talk

Research Field

Biology

Faculty Advisor

Richard Alvey

Graduation Year

2022

Start Date

10-4-2021 10:20 AM

End Date

10-4-2021 10:40 AM

Abstract

Uncovering the Genetic Mechanisms Behind Host-Range Phenotypes in Related Rhodobacter capsulatus Bacteriophages

Jackson Rapala and Dr. Richard Alvey*,

Illinois Wesleyan University, Biology Department

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, are one of the most abundant and diverse biological constructs on Earth. Despite this high degree of diversity, many phages share a large degree of genetic similarity, and can be grouped into clusters. In particular, two C cluster phages discovered at Illinois Wesleyan, Oceanus and Dormio, can infect the host Rhodobacter capsulatus YW1. At the DNA level, these phages are nearly identical with an average nucleotide identity of 98.29%; however, Dormio can infect the host strain B10, while Oceanus cannot. In order to understand the mechanism behind this difference, a series of chimeric Oceanus phages have been developed by transferring genes from Dormio into reproducing Oceanus particles. In particular, these genes have included those present in Dormio but not Oceanus, and tail protein genes. Despite the generation of several chimeras, none of them have given Oceanus the ability to infect R. capsulatus B10. To better locate which gene or genes controls these two phenotypes, a systematic approach has recently been adopted. Rather than targeting specific genes of interest, whole regions of the genome spanning 10 kb are currently being swapped into Oceanus. While the results are still pending, we are hopeful that one of these regions will expand Oceanus’s host range and allow us to further narrow our search for the genetic switch responsible. It is hoped that these experiments will provide valuable knowledge to further our understanding of viral genetics and evolution.

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Apr 10th, 10:20 AM Apr 10th, 10:40 AM

Uncovering the Genetic Mechanisms Behind Host-Range Phenotypes in Related Rhodobacter capsulatus Bacteriophages

Uncovering the Genetic Mechanisms Behind Host-Range Phenotypes in Related Rhodobacter capsulatus Bacteriophages

Jackson Rapala and Dr. Richard Alvey*,

Illinois Wesleyan University, Biology Department

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, are one of the most abundant and diverse biological constructs on Earth. Despite this high degree of diversity, many phages share a large degree of genetic similarity, and can be grouped into clusters. In particular, two C cluster phages discovered at Illinois Wesleyan, Oceanus and Dormio, can infect the host Rhodobacter capsulatus YW1. At the DNA level, these phages are nearly identical with an average nucleotide identity of 98.29%; however, Dormio can infect the host strain B10, while Oceanus cannot. In order to understand the mechanism behind this difference, a series of chimeric Oceanus phages have been developed by transferring genes from Dormio into reproducing Oceanus particles. In particular, these genes have included those present in Dormio but not Oceanus, and tail protein genes. Despite the generation of several chimeras, none of them have given Oceanus the ability to infect R. capsulatus B10. To better locate which gene or genes controls these two phenotypes, a systematic approach has recently been adopted. Rather than targeting specific genes of interest, whole regions of the genome spanning 10 kb are currently being swapped into Oceanus. While the results are still pending, we are hopeful that one of these regions will expand Oceanus’s host range and allow us to further narrow our search for the genetic switch responsible. It is hoped that these experiments will provide valuable knowledge to further our understanding of viral genetics and evolution.