Bacteriophages Hotpocket and Rcbaka: Two Peas in a Pod

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CONFERENCE: John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference

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Ahmad, Zaain; Runkle, Andrew; Vance, Jory
conference paper description
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and replicate within them. Clustering phages, based on similar characteristics, is how phages are grouped together. Phages of the same cluster cannot infect the lysogens made by other phages in that respective cluster. Phage clustering graphs represent similarities in DNA function. Samples were collected from creek and pond water within Northern and Central Illinois, respectively. Isolated phages were initially characterized through immunity tests, lysogen experimentation, and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) analysis. DNA was extracted and phage genomes were sequenced. The genomes were annotated using DNA Master, and Pecaan. Protein functions were confirmed by using HHpred, Phamerator, Glimmer, and Genemark, comparatively. Using the aforementioned programs, these phage protein functions were compared to further relate them. Two bacteriophages, Hotpocket and RcBaka, were isolated using Rhodobacter capsulatus as a host. Experimentation with both of the phage lysogens led us to believe that they belonged to the same cluster but were not the same phage. Genomic sequencing, Immunity hosting, and TEMs confirmed that these two phages are C cluster phages. RcBaka and Hotpocket contained similar DNA to the cluster C phages which provided further evidence of a shared cluster There are now five phages within Cluster C. Comparing Hotpocket to RcBaka contributes to a greater understanding of the cluster C bacteriophages. The completed genome annotations of Hotpocket and RcBaka were sent to GenBank that stores annotated phage genomes. Further study of bacteriophages provides useful information about how phages and viruses replicate in the environment and can also help lead a fight against viral diseases such as HIV.