The Virtual Genome Project - about

VGP, the Virtual Genome Project, is part of a project by Top Lab funded by the National Science Foundation Microbial Genome Sequencing Program, Grant number: EF-0627988. The goal of the project is to sequence the genomes of 100 plasmids that have a broad host-range (BHR plasmids). The plasmids being sequenced were obtained from soil, water, and sewage sludge samples from around the globe. The project includes finishing the sequencing and annotation of the plasmids, as well as interpreting the sequence information to better understand the evolutionary history of plasmids and their role in bacterial chromosome evolution and adaptation to new environments.

The study is unique, as it constitutes the first comprehensive expedition to discover the genetic traits encoded by BHR plasmids and to understand the genetic structure of these mobile elements and their role in gene transfer between chromosomes of bacteria. Moreover, the types of plasmids characterized extend beyond those that have most commonly been studied in the past (those found in human pathogens and easily cultivated bacteria), vastly broadening the possible applications of the global body of plasmid research. The knowledge gained will be of fundamental importance to understanding the evolution and adaptation of bacteria, and of practical significance in developing strategies to exploit plasmid encoded traits, as well as in evaluating the risks associated with the introduction of genetically modified organisms into the environment. The genome sequences of the 100 BHR plasmids will be made available to the science community through Genbank, as well as through recently constructed plasmid databases, and the general information obtained will be presented on this site, The Virtual Genome Project.

Below are the members of the VGP Team, made up of Dr. Top's colleagues and students. For a slideshow of the team at work, open slide show.

Dr. Eva Top. Dr. Celeste Brown.
Jacob Pierson. Dr. Haruo Suzuki
Diya Sen.
  • Diya Sen, Graduate Student
  • Ph.D. Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Department of Biological Sciences
  • University of Idaho
  • email:
  • www: Diya Sen
Tyler Bosquez.
  • Tyler Bosquez, Summer Intern


Dr. Jack Sullivan. Placeholder Image.
Professor Jill Dacey.
  • Jill Dacey, Professor of Art & Design
  • Department of Art & Design
  • University of Idaho
  • email:
Professor Frank Cronk.

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The Virtual Genome Project is funded by the National Science Foundation Microbial Genome Sequencing Program, Grant number: EF-0627988.
For more information contact: Dr. Eva Top, Professor of Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, I.D. 83844-3051 U.S.A.
email: etop [at]