Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Meta-Analysis Reveals Bacteria-Virus Infection Patterns

29.06.2011
Bacteria are common sources of infection, but these microorganisms can themselves be infected by even smaller agents: viruses. A new analysis of the interactions between bacteria and viruses has revealed patterns that could help scientists working to understand which viruses infect which bacteria in the microbial world.

A meta-analysis of the interactions shows that the infection patterns exhibit a nested structure, with hard-to-infect bacteria infected by generalist viruses and easy-to-infect bacteria attacked by both generalist and specialist viruses.

“Although it is well known that individual viruses do not infect all bacteria, this study provides an understanding of possibly universal patterns or principles governing the set of viruses able to infect a given bacteria and the set of bacteria that a given virus can infect,” said Joshua Weitz, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Discovering this general pattern of nested bacteria-virus infection could improve predictions of microbial population dynamics and community assembly, which affect human health and global ecosystem function. Knowing the patterns of which bacteria are susceptible to which viruses could also provide insights into strategies for viral-based antimicrobial therapies.

The results of the meta-analysis were published June 27, 2011 in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was sponsored by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Georgia Tech physics graduate student Cesar Flores, Michigan State University zoology graduate student Justin Meyer, Georgia Tech biology undergraduate student Lauren Farr, and postdoctoral researcher Sergi Valverde from the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain also contributed to this study.

The research team compiled 38 laboratory studies of interactions between bacteria and phages, the viruses that infect them. The studies represented approximately 12,000 distinct experimental infection assays across a broad spectrum of diversity, habitat and mode of selection. The studies covered a 20-year period and included hundreds of different host and phage strains.

The researchers converted each study into a matrix with rows containing bacterial types, columns containing phage strains, and cells with zeros or ones to indicate whether a given pair yielded an infection. Then they applied a rigorous network theory approach to examine whether the interaction networks exhibited a nonrandom structure, conformed to a characteristic shape, or behaved idiosyncratically -- making them hard to predict.

Of the 38 studies, the researchers found 27 that showed significant nestedness. Nestedness was measured by the extent to which phages that infected the most hosts tended to infect bacteria that were infected by the fewest phages. The researchers used statistical tests to rule out forms of bias. However, because the majority of the data consisted of closely related species, the researchers anticipate that more complex patterns of infection may form with species with more genetic diversity.

“Considering the large range of taxa, habitats and sampling techniques used to construct the matrices, the repeated sampling of a nested pattern of host-phage infections is salient, but the process driving the nestedness is not obvious. The pattern suggests a common mechanism or convergent set of mechanisms underlying microbial co-evolution and community assembly,” explained Weitz.

The researchers examined three hypotheses to explain the nestedness pattern based on biochemical, ecological and evolutionary principles, but found that additional experiments will be required to determine why this pattern occurs so often.

This meta-analysis demonstrated the utility of network methods as a means for discovering novel interaction patterns. According to the researchers, viewing host-phage interaction networks through this type of unifying lens more often will likely unveil other hidden commonalities of microbial and viral communities that transcend species identity.

This research was supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) (Award No. HR0011-09-1-0055). The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigator and does not necessarily represent the official views of DARPA.

Research News & Publications Office
Georgia Institute of Technology
75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314
Atlanta, Georgia 30308 USA
Media Relations Contacts: Abby Robinson (abby@innovate.gatech.edu; 404-385-3364) or John Toon (jtoon@gatech.edu; 404-894-6986)

Writer: Abby Robinson

Abby Robinson | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>