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Dr. Ahlgren’s research on viruses highlighted in Nature

book coverThe work of Dr. Nathan Ahlgren and his collaborators at USC using artificial intelligence techniques to characterize viral genomes was recently featured in Nature magazine’s News and Views.

They have developed a machine-learning tool that allows them to distinguish DNA sequences of viruses from those of their bacterial and archaeal hosts based on differences in short stretches of DNA (k-mers) encoded in their DNA genomes.

They used this tool to compare microbial DNA sequences retrieved from gut samples harvested from healthy individuals and from patients suffering from liver cirrhosis. Results revealed differences in the composition of viruses taken from healthy and diseased individuals, suggesting that some viruses may play a part in disease.