WKU Students Publish Analysis of Newly Sequenced Viral Genomes
- Rodney King, PhD
- Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
WKU students Jodi E. Thomas, Tithe Ahmed, Katie L. Alexander, James M. Biddle, Makenzie K. Daniels, Jenna R. Rowlett and Taylor E. Senay recently published their analysis of newly sequenced viral genomes. The article entitled “Genome Sequences of Subcluster K5 Mycobacteriophages AlleyCat, Edugator, and Guillsminger” was published in the November, 2017 issue of Genome Announcements, an open access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology. The article can be freely accessed at: https://doi.org/10.1128/genomeA.01122-17.
The WKU students were part of a nationwide effort to investigate viral diversity by sequencing and analyzing the genomes of bacteria-infecting viruses (bacteriophages) found in the environment. This research, initiated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science Education Alliance (SEA), allows undergraduates to experience the thrill of discovery and the process of scientific investigation. The WKU students discovered, named, characterized and annotated the genome of bacteriophage “AlleyCat” during a year-long course-based research experience offered in the Biology Department (Biology 212, Genome Discovery and Exploration and Biology 312, Bioinformatics). AlleyCat was compared to other K5 subcluster bacteriophages isolated by students from other colleges and universities across the country. “Once again, WKU students have contributed to our understanding of the most numerous biological entities on the planet. This is a terrific example of how students from across the U.S. can collaborate on a research project” said Dr. Rodney King, an author on the study and a Professor in the Department of Biology. Additional WKU authors include Dr. Claire Rinehart, a Professor in the Department of Biology and Director of the WKU Bioinformatics and Information Science Center, Dr. Bobby Gaffney, a Bioinformatician in the Bioinformatics and Information Science Center, Amanda Staples, a research technician in the Biology Department and Naomi Rowland, a Biology 212 instructor and the Coordinator of the WKU Biotechnology Center.
A grant from KBRIN (Kentucky Biomedical Infrastructure Network; Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health Grant 5P20GM103436) partially supported this project and has expanded this classroom-based research experience to additional schools throughout the Commonwealth.