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British Researchers Sequence Genome of Newly Identified Phycodnaviridae Genus

NEW YORK, Aug. 16 (GenomeWeb News) - A team of British researchers has sequenced the genome of a recently discovered marine virus that belongs to the Phycodnavirus family.


The genus, Coccolithovirus, contains 407,339 base pairs of DNA. It belongs to a family of viruses known to infect marine calcifying microalgae Emiliania huxleyi. The sequence is believed to be the largest genome to be sequenced in the Phycodnavirus family.


Led by Peter Ghazal at the Scottish Centre for Genomic Technology and Informatics at the Universityof Edinburgh, the researchers said certain genes in the virus help biosynthesize ceramide, a sphingolipid "known to induce apoptosis."


Their study, which appears in the Aug. 12 issue of Science, also shows that the virus contains six RNA polymerase subunits and a novel promoter -- which they said is "unique" for algal viruses -- which could suggest that the organism encodes its own transcription machinery.


The scientists used microarray transcriptomic analysis to find that 65 percent of the predicted virus-encoded genes are expressed during lytic infection of E. huxleyi.

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