Viruses affect all forms of cellular life; however, it is extremely difficult to trace their evolutionary history. This project will reconstruct the phylogeny of an understudied branch of the viral tree of life: that of circular eukaryotic single-stranded DNA (CESS) viruses. CESS viruses are the smallest known viruses, yet they include pathogens with devastating impacts on agriculture worldwide. Recently, general environmental sampling has uncovered a diversity of CESS viruses that are only distantly related to these pathogens and has shown that they infect a wider range of hosts than previously thought, including insects and fungi. This project systematically tests previously unexplored hosts to discover, sequence, and classify their CESS viruses. Phylogenetic analyses will then determine how all CESS viruses are related to one another, providing a framework for classifying the CESS viral tree of life.Broader impacts of this research include training of graduate students, undergraduates, and postdocs, as well as K-12 outreach and creation of web-based resources for the scientific and general public. Middle school students will be involved in collecting invertebrate samples, which will be processed during a virology training workshop for graduate students and postdocs on CESS virus genomics. Project results will be displayed on a website to increase public knowledge about CESS viruses, and bioinformatics tools will be shared freely with the scientific community.
|Effective start/end date||12/1/12 → 11/30/17|
- National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))