MimiLook: A phylogenetic workflow for detection of gene acquisition in major orthologous groups of megavirales

Sourabh Jain*, Arup Panda, Philippe Colson, Didier Raoult, Pierre Pontarotti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the inclusion of new members, understanding about evolutionary mechanisms and processes by which members of the proposed order, Megavirales, have evolved has become a key area of interest. The central role of gene acquisition has been shown in previous studies. However, the major drawback in gene acquisition studies is the focus on few MV families or putative families with large variation in their genetic structure. Thus, here we have tried to develop a methodology by which we can detect horizontal gene transfers (HGTs), taking into consideration orthologous groups of distantly related Megavirale families. Here, we report an automated workflow MimiLook, prepared as a Perl command line program, that deduces orthologous groups (OGs) from ORFomes of Megavirales and constructs phylogenetic trees by performing alignment generation, alignment editing and protein-protein BLAST (BLASTP) searching across the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) non-redundant (nr) protein sequence database. Finally, this tool detects statistically validated events of gene acquisitions with the help of the T-REX algorithm by comparing individual gene tree with NCBI species tree. In between the steps, the workflow decides about handling paralogs, filtering outputs, identifying Megavirale specific OGs, detection of HGTs, along with retrieval of information about those OGs that are monophyletic with organisms from cellular domains of life. By implementing MimiLook, we noticed that nine percent of Megavirale gene families (i.e., OGs) have been acquired by HGT, 80% OGs were Megaviralespecific and eight percent were found to be sharing common ancestry with members of cellular domains (Eukaryote, Bacteria, Archaea, Phages or other viruses) and three percent were ambivalent. The results are briefly discussed to emphasize methodology. Also, MimiLook is relevant for detecting evolutionary scenarios in other targeted phyla with user defined modifications. It can be accessed at following link 10.6084/m9.figshare.4653622.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Issue number4
StatePublished - 7 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene acquisition
  • Giant viruses
  • HGT
  • Megavirales
  • Orthologous groups
  • T-REX
  • Workflow


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