Mobile genetic elements (MGEs) are genetic entities that seek to replicate themselves and spread from cell to cell. Two of the most common forms of MGEs are viruses and plasmids. They can be found in virtually all of Earth’s ecosystems. A software tool recently described in Nature Biotechnology called geNomad identifies and classifies MGEs based upon their gene content and their genetic sequences. The software was created by researchers under the direction of JGI Microbiome Data Science Group Lead Nikos Kyrpides.
The projects of 22 Biosciences Area scientists and engineers received funding through the FY23 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program.
In the last thirty years, in environments all over the world, scientists have discovered giants among viruses. Culturing studies have been key to understanding these viruses’ host range, morphological structures, and infection strategies. More recently, researchers have employed cultivation-independent approaches to discover thousands of new giant viruses, rapidly expanding the diversity of the Nucleocytoviricota phylum. A new review provides a perspective on giant virus diversity, and how sequencing and bioinformatics have sped up the study of giant viruses.
In Science, a team led by Jean-Marie Volland, a scientist with joint appointments at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems, and Silvina Gonzalez-Rizzo and Olivier Gros of the Université des Antilles, described the morphological and genomic features of a giant filamentous bacterium, along with its life cycle.
Assembling viral genomes from metagenomes is challenging and often results in highly fragmented data, which limits the ability of researchers to accurately perform functional assessment, host prediction, and phylogenetic analysis. As reported in Nature Biotechnology, a team including JGI’s Stephen Nayfach, Frederik Schulz, Emiley Eloe-Fadrosh, Simon Roux and Nikos Kyrpides developed an automated tool called CheckV (pronounced “Check-Vee”) to help researchers assess and improve the quality of metagenome-assembled viral genomes. CheckV has already been applied to over 2.4 million viral genomes available in the latest release of IMG/VR, a database that is part of the Integrated Microbial Genomes & Microbiomes (IMG/M) suite. Learn more here on the JGI website.