Question of the Month—October 2012
Dan Russell
Oct 19, 2012

Geographical Distribution of Mycobacteriophages

There are now more than 280 phages with complete genome sequences, cluster assignments, AND valid GPS coordinates in our databases. These phages come from over 35 states and 4 continents. You can see these on our GPS Map page. Perhaps now our community has collected enough data to answer the following questions.

Are there any patterns to which phage clusters have or have not been found in different geographical locations? What evidence can you provide that geographical location does OR does not predict phage cluster?

Answering the QOTM

Post your answer in the comments below. Good answers will include evidence (numbers, images/screenshots, examples) to support any assertions you make. We also ask that you read other answers to the question, and "vote up" answers that are unique, or include interesting evidence (such as pictures), or are particularly helpful in answering the question.


Do you think you can make any predictions about your own phage's cluster based on where it was found?


Many of you have concluded that there is no geographic pattern to phage cluster, pointing out that Cluster A and Cluster F phages have been found across the world. They are. However, here are a few more questions to help you dig deeper (pun intended).
  • What about Cluster B, the second most common cluster?
  • What if you sort by subcluster, such as only the A4 phages?
  • What if you look very locally? If isolation location has no effect, you'd expect locations with lots of phages found to have the same % breakdowns as the phage population as a whole (~35% Cluster A, ~18% B, ~12% F, ... Is this true for Pittsburgh, BYU, WashU, your school?