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Isolation and Genomic Annotation of the Novel Bacillus thuringiensis Bacteriophage, Rex16

By: Sydney Dishman, Jennifer Easterwood, Kent Rhodes, Michael Wolyniak, Joanna Katsanos


Bacteriophages are exceptionally abundant, dynamic, ancient, and genetically diverse viruses that specifically infect prokaryotic organisms. With an estimated 1031 phages present on the planet at any given moment and less than 2,000 strains genetically characterized to date, bacteriophages represent a largely unexplored area of the global biome. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has sought to eliminate this gap in knowledge by establishing the Science Education Alliance Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science (SEA-PHAGES) program. It is through this program that the novel Bacillus thuringiensis bacteriophage, Rex16, was isolated and characterized. With a 162,605 base-pair genome, this strain was found to contain genetic information similar to other C1 subcluster phages as well as entirely unique open reading frames. The discovery of new bacteriophages, like Rex16, may progress the development of phage technology, which has shown promise in the fields of medicine and agriculture. In addition, this particular project has paved the way for continued bacteriophage isolation and genomic annotation at Queens University of Charlotte.

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