New paper from the Eisen lab: Sporulation phylogenetic profiling

Quick post here. This paper came out a few months ago but it was not freely available so I did not write about it until now as it just showed up in Pubmed Central. It was published in the Journal of Bacteriology but they do not release material for free onto their website or Pubmed Central for a few months. Alas, as I was kind of a peripheral player in the main work in the paper (I helped them with the phylogenetic profiling part) I did not end up pushing as hard as I should have for paying the open access fee to make it available earlier / openly.

Here is a link to the paper: Gene Conservation among Endospore-Forming Bacteria Reveals Additional Sporulation Genes in Bacillus subtilis.

It is from Richard Losick’s lab at Harvard and it is one I am very very pleased with. Basically, Losick’s lab has been studying sporulation in Bacillus subtilis like forever. And in 2005 we wrote a paper on the genome of another member of the same phylum that also sporulates (Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans): Life in Hot Carbon Monoxide: The Complete Genome Sequence of Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans Z-2901.

And in that paper we did a phylogenetic profile based analysis of sporulation genes and found a set of genes that were (on average) in all the sporulating species and not in non sporulating species.  Among this set of genes were quite a few that nobody had ever shown to be involved in sporulation.  We predicted that they were likely involved in sporulation. 
And then I waited, since I did not really work on sporulation.  And in a series of discussions with Losick and people in his lab found out that they had evidence that many of these genes in B. subtilis were involved in sporulation.  And the latest paper is in essence a follow up on some of those discussions (well, really it is a lot of work from Losick’s lab with a little input from those conversations to guide some of the experimental tests). 

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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