To do anything, viruses must find a host, and not just any host will do. It must be a specific host the virus has adapted to commandeer. For bacteriophage viruses, these hosts are microbes like bacteria, not humans. With metagenomic sequencing, researchers have found more of these viruses than ever before, in all kinds of ecosystems. However, matching these viral genetic sequences to their hosts is crucial to understanding what these viruses can do.
Building on existing virus-host prediction approaches, researchers have created a new program called iPHoP (pronounced “eye-pop”, freely available online). It combines and evaluates multiple predictions to reliably match viruses with their archaea and bacteria hosts. Learn more on the JGI website.