Date of this Version
Ramsey, E. 2022. The Search for Viruses in the Ctenophore, Bolinopsis Infundibulum. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Viruses are abundant in the ocean and found to infect a wide variety of species, but there is still much we don’t know about their place in the ocean and how they interact with certain species. One such group are ctenophores which are a group of gelatinous organisms important to the marine food web. This project seeks to identify double stranded DNA viruses within the genome of the ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum. To accomplish this study, two machine learning based viral identification programs, DeepVirFinder and VirSorter2, were used to search the target genome for viral sequences. The sequence contigs identified by these programs were then searched using BLAST in an attempt to identify the viral sequences the program was calling. DeepVirFinder called 2537 contigs as viral and VirSorter2 identified 33 contigs with 24 contigs overlapping between the two programs. The BLAST search of the top results from these two programs matched to a large range of organisms. One contig, contig 474, did match to a bacteriophage in the family siphoviridae although the match only represented 30 nucleotides. The matches to seemingly unrelated organisms could possibly explained by shared motifs or possibly viral sequences imbedded in the genomes of both organisms. Further work is needed to closely examine these results and confidently identify a virus associated with B. infundibulum.