Bacteriophages are the most abundant and diverse biological entities on the planet, and new phage genomes are being discovered at a rapid pace. As more phage genomes are published, new methods are needed for placing these genomes in an ecological and evolutionary context. Phages are difficult to study by phylogenetic methods, because they exchange genes regularly, and no single gene is conserved across all phages. Here, we demonstrate how gene-level networks can provide a high-resolution view of phage genetic diversity and offer a novel perspective on virus ecology. We focus our analyses on virus host range and show how network topology corresponds to host relatedness, how to find groups of genes with the strongest host-specific signatures, and how this perspective can complement phage host prediction tools. We discuss extensions of gene network analysis to predicting the emergence of phages on new hosts, as well as applications to features of phage biology beyond host range.
Shapiro, Jason W. and Putonti, Catherine. Gene Co-occurrence Networks Reflect Bacteriophage Ecology and Evolution. mBio, , : 14, 2018. Retrieved from Loyola eCommons, Bioinformatics Faculty Publications, http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01870-17
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