Bacteriophage Alchemy: Turning Genotypic Data into Phenotypic Gold
Dr. Shawn Polson
Associate Professor, Departments of Computer and Information Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Delaware
Abstract: Bacteria, viruses, and other microbes represent not only the most abundant entities on our planet, but also have an outsized impact on the biogeochemical processes that make life on Earth possible. However the study of microbial communities and their impacts is inherently difficult, as direct observation and experimental systems are limited. The use of metagenomics and other high throughput sequencing based approaches have offered a way to circumvent some of these limitations, but bioinformatics analysis and biological interpretation of these data can be challenging. In this talk we will explore challenges faced by my research group as we have explored the ecology and significance of bacteriophage (viruses infecting bacteria) and the host communities that they infect. We will discuss various approaches we have devised to overcome some of these limitations, building toward a bioinformatics framework for translating our genotypic sequence data into phenotypic predictions elucidating the biology of the system.
Bio: Shawn Polson is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Computer and Information Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware. He is the Director of the CBCB Bioinformatics Data Science Core Facility and the Delaware INBRE Data Science Core – helping researchers at UD and our partner institutions to leverage bioinformatics and data science approaches in their research. He also leads the UD’s Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Data Science T32 Pre-doctoral training program, working to enhance and support graduate training in these fields. Dr. Polson’s lab leverages omics and bioinformatics approaches to elucidate the role and significance of viruses and microorganisms in environments ranging from the open ocean to agricultural and biomedically relevant systems.