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.
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).
In Cell Genomics, an international consortium led by researchers at the Joint Genome Institute team generated 824 new Actinobacteria genomes, which were were combined with nearly 5,000 publicly available ones and 1,100 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) reconstructed from sequenced environmental samples in a previous study.
In the journal Cell, scientists from a team led by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, and the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) describe a computational pipeline that can specifically scan for RNA virus sequences.
Numerous Biosciences Area personnel are among the 2021 Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards honorees. This annual program recognizes outstanding contributions by employees to all facets of Lab activities. A complete list of winners can be found here. The 10th annual Director’s Awards ceremony will take place on November 18 at noon.