2023 15 B1

BIOL446: Viruses in Aquificales

By: Jennavy Roybal

Department: Biology

Faculty Advisor: Dr. José R. De La Torre

Viruses are the primary ecological control of natural bacterial populations. They help with regulating cell numbers and recycling material, and also paly an important role in bacterial evolution through natural selection and as a mechanism of horizontal gene transfer. Members of the bacterial class Aquificales grow in extreme temperatures ranging from 60-90 degrees Celsius in terrestrial hot springs as well as deep-sea hydrothermal vents. However, little is known about the viruses that infect these bacteria. Metagenomic sequencing has identified many putative viral sequences, but many have not been linked to their natural host organisms. Here, I chosen to search the genomes of 4 representatives of the Aquificales for evidence of viral infection: Venenivibrio stagnispumantis DSM 18763, Thermocrinis minervae DSM 19557, Hydrogenivirga caldilitoris DSM 16510 and Persephonella hydrogeniphila DSM 15103. Using the genome analysis tools of the Integrated Microbial Genomes database, I will identify and analyse the anti-viral defense mechanism knwn as CRISPR-cas systems in each genome. These defense mechanisms retain a form of genetic memory of past infections. By comparing these genetic elements to databases of known viral sequences, I hope to identify putative viruses that infect the bacteria. My goal for this research is to see which ones have become resistant to certain viruses in a thermo-hot spring environment.