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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2020

  • Title: The Hunt for Giant Viruses
  • Primary Author: Jeffrey Blanchard (University of Massachusetts - Amherst )
  • Abstract:

    Andrea Dame 1, Eliza Jane Holtz 1, Ulli Mersdorf 2, and Matthias Fischer 2, Jeffrey Blanchard 1

    1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA USA 2 Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, Germany

    To better understand microbial biodiversity and develop a forest soil genome reference database we used a variant of single cell sequencing with small pools of 100 cells to improve cost efficiency. This approach revealed a surprising diversity of microbial life including sixteen new lineages of giant viruses. These genomes provide a foundation for a new research direction focused on forest soil giant viruses, virophages and their hosts. As first steps with have begun efforts to cultivate soil giant viruses using a collection of 20 flagellates and identified promising candidates. The inoculum was used also in TEM, providing the first images of giant viruses from forest soil. In this growing collection are putative new giant virus morphotypes. Work is also in progress to identify and isolate protists that might be potential hosts of soil giant viruses.

  • Research Category: Biodiversity Studies