Other Publications (13)
- Journal of Bacteriology
- Proceedings. Biological Sciences / The Royal Society
- BMC Bioinformatics
- Medical Image Analysis
- PLoS Biology
- FEMS Microbiology Letters
- Applied and Environmental Microbiology
- Research in Microbiology
- The ISME Journal
- PloS One
- Bioinformatics (Oxford, England)
- American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
- Nature Communications
Articles by Ben Felts in JoVE
Phage Phenomics: Physiological Approaches to Characterize Novel Viral Proteins Savannah E. Sanchez1, Daniel A. Cuevas2, Jason E. Rostron1, Tiffany Y. Liang3, Cullen G. Pivaroff1, Matthew R. Haynes1, Jim Nulton4, Ben Felts4, Barbara A. Bailey4, Peter Salamon4, Robert A. Edwards1,5,6, Alex B. Burgin7, Anca M. Segall1, Forest Rohwer1 1Department of Biology, San Diego State University, 2Computational Science Research Center, San Diego State University, 3Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, San Diego State University, 4Department of Mathematics and Statistics, San Diego State University, 5Department of Computer Science, San Diego State University, 6Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, 7SPARC Committee, Broad Institute Here, we present phenomic approaches for the functional characterization of putative phage genes. Techniques include a developed assay capable of monitoring host anabolic metabolism, the Multi-phenotype Assay Plates (MAPs), in addition to the established method of metabolomics, capable of measuring effects to catabolic metabolism.
Other articles by Ben Felts on PubMed
Metagenomic Analyses of an Uncultured Viral Community from Human Feces Journal of Bacteriology. Oct, 2003 | Pubmed ID: 14526037 Here we present the first metagenomic analyses of an uncultured viral community from human feces, using partial shotgun sequencing. Most of the sequences were unrelated to anything previously reported. The recognizable viruses were mostly siphophages, and the community contained an estimated 1,200 viral genotypes.
Diversity and Population Structure of a Near-shore Marine-sediment Viral Community Proceedings. Biological Sciences / The Royal Society. Mar, 2004 | Pubmed ID: 15156913 Viruses, most of which are phage, are extremely abundant in marine sediments, yet almost nothing is known about their identity or diversity. We present the metagenomic analysis of an uncultured near-shore marine-sediment viral community. Three-quarters of the sequences in the sample were not related to anything previously reported. Among the sequences that could be identified, the majority belonged to double-stranded DNA phage. Temperate phage were more common than lytic phage, suggesting that lysogeny may be an important lifestyle for sediment viruses. Comparisons between the sediment sample and previously sequenced seawater viral communities showed that certain phage phylogenetic groups were abundant in all marine viral communities, while other phage groups were under-represented or absent. This 'marineness' suggests that marine phage are derived from a common set of ancestors. Several independent mathematical models, based on the distribution of overlapping shotgun sequence fragments from the library, were used to show that the diversity of the viral community was extremely high, with at least 10(4) viral genotypes per kilogram of sediment and a Shannon index greater than 9 nats. Based on these observations we propose that marine-sediment viral communities are one of the largest unexplored reservoirs of sequence space on the planet.
PHACCS, an Online Tool for Estimating the Structure and Diversity of Uncultured Viral Communities Using Metagenomic Information BMC Bioinformatics. 2005 | Pubmed ID: 15743531 Phages, viruses that infect prokaryotes, are the most abundant microbes in the world. A major limitation to studying these viruses is the difficulty of cultivating the appropriate prokaryotic hosts. One way around this limitation is to directly clone and sequence shotgun libraries of uncultured viral communities (i.e., metagenomic analyses). PHACCS http://phage.sdsu.edu/phaccs, Phage Communities from Contig Spectrum, is an online bioinformatic tool to assess the biodiversity of uncultured viral communities. PHACCS uses the contig spectrum from shotgun DNA sequence assemblies to mathematically model the structure of viral communities and make predictions about diversity.
A Diffusion Approach to Labeling Rows and Columns in an Irregular Array Medical Image Analysis. Apr, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 16213781 A robust algorithm is presented for labeling rows and columns in an irregular array. The algorithm is based on hierarchical pattern matching to a local lattice, which is used as a template. Starting from the best local match, the pattern is expanded hierarchically to encompass the entire array. An application to labeling digitized images of an array of tissue sections mounted on a microscope slide is discussed.
The Marine Viromes of Four Oceanic Regions PLoS Biology. Nov, 2006 | Pubmed ID: 17090214 Viruses are the most common biological entities in the marine environment. There has not been a global survey of these viruses, and consequently, it is not known what types of viruses are in Earth's oceans or how they are distributed. Metagenomic analyses of 184 viral assemblages collected over a decade and representing 68 sites in four major oceanic regions showed that most of the viral sequences were not similar to those in the current databases. There was a distinct "marine-ness" quality to the viral assemblages. Global diversity was very high, presumably several hundred thousand of species, and regional richness varied on a North-South latitudinal gradient. The marine regions had different assemblages of viruses. Cyanophages and a newly discovered clade of single-stranded DNA phages dominated the Sargasso Sea sample, whereas prophage-like sequences were most common in the Arctic. However most viral species were found to be widespread. With a majority of shared species between oceanic regions, most of the differences between viral assemblages seemed to be explained by variation in the occurrence of the most common viral species and not by exclusion of different viral genomes. These results support the idea that viruses are widely dispersed and that local environmental conditions enrich for certain viral types through selective pressure.
Power Law Rank-abundance Models for Marine Phage Communities FEMS Microbiology Letters. Aug, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17559407 Metagenomic analyses suggest that the rank-abundance curve for marine phage communities follows a power law distribution. A new type of power law dependence based on a simple model in which a modified version of Lotka-Volterra predator-prey dynamics is sampled uniformly in time is presented. Biologically, the model embodies a kill the winner hypothesis and a neutral evolution hypothesis. The model can match observed power law distributions and uses very few parameters that are readily identifiable and characterize phage ecosystems. The model makes new untested predictions: (1) it is unlikely that the most abundant phage genotype will be the same at different time points and (2) the long-term decay of isolated phage populations follows a power law.
Metagenomic and Small-subunit RRNA Analyses Reveal the Genetic Diversity of Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, and Viruses in Soil Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Nov, 2007 | Pubmed ID: 17827313 Recent studies have highlighted the surprising richness of soil bacterial communities; however, bacteria are not the only microorganisms found in soil. To our knowledge, no study has compared the diversities of the four major microbial taxa, i.e., bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses, from an individual soil sample. We used metagenomic and small-subunit RNA-based sequence analysis techniques to compare the estimated richness and evenness of these groups in prairie, desert, and rainforest soils. By grouping sequences at the 97% sequence similarity level (an operational taxonomic unit [OTU]), we found that the archaeal and fungal communities were consistently less even than the bacterial communities. Although total richness levels are difficult to estimate with a high degree of certainty, the estimated number of unique archaeal or fungal OTUs appears to rival or exceed the number of unique bacterial OTUs in each of the collected soils. In this first study to comprehensively survey viral communities using a metagenomic approach, we found that soil viruses are taxonomically diverse and distinct from the communities of viruses found in other environments that have been surveyed using a similar approach. Within each of the four microbial groups, we observed minimal taxonomic overlap between sites, suggesting that soil archaea, bacteria, fungi, and viruses are globally as well as locally diverse.
Viral Diversity and Dynamics in an Infant Gut Research in Microbiology. Jun, 2008 | Pubmed ID: 18541415 Metagenomic sequencing of DNA viruses from the feces of a healthy week-old infant revealed a viral community with extremely low diversity. The identifiable sequences were dominated by phages, which likely influence the diversity and abundance of co-occurring microbes. The most abundant fecal viral sequences did not originate from breast milk or formula, suggesting a non-dietary initial source of viruses. Certain sequences were stable in the infant's gut over the first 3 months of life, but microarray experiments demonstrated that the overall viral community composition changed dramatically between 1 and 2 weeks of age.
Viral and Microbial Community Dynamics in Four Aquatic Environments The ISME Journal. Jun, 2010 | Pubmed ID: 20147985 The species composition and metabolic potential of microbial and viral communities are predictable and stable for most ecosystems. This apparent stability contradicts theoretical models as well as the viral-microbial dynamics observed in simple ecosystems, both of which show Kill-the-Winner behavior causing cycling of the dominant taxa. Microbial and viral metagenomes were obtained from four human-controlled aquatic environments at various time points separated by one day to >1 year. These environments were maintained within narrow geochemical bounds and had characteristic species composition and metabolic potentials at all time points. However, underlying this stability were rapid changes at the fine-grained level of viral genotypes and microbial strains. These results suggest a model wherein functionally redundant microbial and viral taxa are cycling at the level of viral genotypes and virus-sensitive microbial strains. Microbial taxa, viral taxa, and metabolic function persist over time in stable ecosystems and both communities fluctuate in a Kill-the-Winner manner at the level of viral genotypes and microbial strains.
Assessing Coral Reefs on a Pacific-wide Scale Using the Microbialization Score PloS One. 2012 | Pubmed ID: 22970122 The majority of the world's coral reefs are in various stages of decline. While a suite of disturbances (overfishing, eutrophication, and global climate change) have been identified, the mechanism(s) of reef system decline remain elusive. Increased microbial and viral loading with higher percentages of opportunistic and specific microbial pathogens have been identified as potentially unifying features of coral reefs in decline. Due to their relative size and high per cell activity, a small change in microbial biomass may signal a large reallocation of available energy in an ecosystem; that is the microbialization of the coral reef. Our hypothesis was that human activities alter the energy budget of the reef system, specifically by altering the allocation of metabolic energy between microbes and macrobes. To determine if this is occurring on a regional scale, we calculated the basal metabolic rates for the fish and microbial communities at 99 sites on twenty-nine coral islands throughout the Pacific Ocean using previously established scaling relationships. From these metabolic rate predictions, we derived a new metric for assessing and comparing reef health called the microbialization score. The microbialization score represents the percentage of the combined fish and microbial predicted metabolic rate that is microbial. Our results demonstrate a strong positive correlation between reef microbialization scores and human impact. In contrast, microbialization scores did not significantly correlate with ocean net primary production, local chla concentrations, or the combined metabolic rate of the fish and microbial communities. These findings support the hypothesis that human activities are shifting energy to the microbes, at the expense of the macrobes. Regardless of oceanographic context, the microbialization score is a powerful metric for assessing the level of human impact a reef system is experiencing.
Reference-independent Comparative Metagenomics Using Cross-assembly: CrAss Bioinformatics (Oxford, England). Dec, 2012 | Pubmed ID: 23074261 Metagenomes are often characterized by high levels of unknown sequences. Reads derived from known microorganisms can easily be identified and analyzed using fast homology search algorithms and a suitable reference database, but the unknown sequences are often ignored in further analyses, biasing conclusions. Nevertheless, it is possible to use more data in a comparative metagenomic analysis by creating a cross-assembly of all reads, i.e. a single assembly of reads from different samples. Comparative metagenomics studies the interrelationships between metagenomes from different samples. Using an assembly algorithm is a fast and intuitive way to link (partially) homologous reads without requiring a database of reference sequences.
The Upper Respiratory Tract As a Microbial Source for Pulmonary Infections in Cystic Fibrosis. Parallels from Island Biogeography American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Jun, 2014 | Pubmed ID: 24702670 A continuously mixed series of microbial communities inhabits various points of the respiratory tract, with community composition determined by distance from colonization sources, colonization rates, and extinction rates. Ecology and evolution theory developed in the context of biogeography is relevant to clinical microbiology and could reframe the interpretation of recent studies comparing communities from lung explant samples, sputum samples, and oropharyngeal swabs. We propose an island biogeography model of the microbial communities inhabiting different niches in human airways. Island biogeography as applied to communities separated by time and space is a useful parallel for exploring microbial colonization of healthy and diseased lungs, with the potential to inform our understanding of microbial community dynamics and the relevance of microbes detected in different sample types. In this perspective, we focus on the intermixed microbial communities inhabiting different regions of the airways of patients with cystic fibrosis.
A Highly Abundant Bacteriophage Discovered in the Unknown Sequences of Human Faecal Metagenomes Nature Communications. 2014 | Pubmed ID: 25058116 Metagenomics, or sequencing of the genetic material from a complete microbial community, is a promising tool to discover novel microbes and viruses. Viral metagenomes typically contain many unknown sequences. Here we describe the discovery of a previously unidentified bacteriophage present in the majority of published human faecal metagenomes, which we refer to as crAssphage. Its ~97 kbp genome is six times more abundant in publicly available metagenomes than all other known phages together; it comprises up to 90% and 22% of all reads in virus-like particle (VLP)-derived metagenomes and total community metagenomes, respectively; and it totals 1.68% of all human faecal metagenomic sequencing reads in the public databases. The majority of crAssphage-encoded proteins match no known sequences in the database, which is why it was not detected before. Using a new co-occurrence profiling approach, we predict a Bacteroides host for this phage, consistent with Bacteroides-related protein homologues and a unique carbohydrate-binding domain encoded in the phage genome.