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  1. null (Ed.)
    The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the critical need for accurate and rapid testing for virus detection. This need has generated a high number of new testing methods aimed at replacing RT-PCR, which is the golden standard for testing. Most of the testing techniques are based on biochemistry methods and require chemicals that are often expensive and the supply might become scarce in a large crisis. In the present paper we suggest the use of methods based on physics that leverage novel nanomaterials. We demonstrate that using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) of virion particles a very distinct spectroscopic signature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be obtained. We demonstrate that the spectra are mainly composed by signals from the spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins. It is believed that a clinical test using SERS can be developed. The test will be fast, inexpensive, and reliable. It is also clear that SERS can be used for analysis of structural changes on the S and N proteins. This will be an example of application of nanotechnology and properties of nanoparticles for health and social related matters. 
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  2. ABSTRACT Bacteriophages are the most abundant and diverse biological entities on the planet, and new phage genomes are being discovered at a rapid pace. As more phage genomes are published, new methods are needed for placing these genomes in an ecological and evolutionary context. Phages are difficult to study by phylogenetic methods, because they exchange genes regularly, and no single gene is conserved across all phages. Here, we demonstrate how gene-level networks can provide a high-resolution view of phage genetic diversity and offer a novel perspective on virus ecology. We focus our analyses on virus host range and show how network topology corresponds to host relatedness, how to find groups of genes with the strongest host-specific signatures, and how this perspective can complement phage host prediction tools. We discuss extensions of gene network analysis to predicting the emergence of phages on new hosts, as well as applications to features of phage biology beyond host range. IMPORTANCE Bacteriophages (phages) are viruses that infect bacteria, and they are critical drivers of bacterial evolution and community structure. It is generally difficult to study phages by using tree-based methods, because gene exchange is common, and no single gene is shared among all phages. Instead, networks offer a means to compare phages while placing them in a broader ecological and evolutionary context. In this work, we build a network that summarizes gene sharing across phages and test how a key constraint on phage ecology, host range, corresponds to the structure of the network. We find that the network reflects the relatedness among phage hosts, and phages with genes that are closer in the network are likelier to infect similar hosts. This approach can also be used to identify genes that affect host range, and we discuss possible extensions to analyze other aspects of viral ecology. 
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  3. ABSTRACT Tundra ecosystems are typically carbon (C) rich but nitrogen (N) limited. Since biological N 2 fixation is the major source of biologically available N, the soil N 2 -fixing (i.e., diazotrophic) community serves as an essential N supplier to the tundra ecosystem. Recent climate warming has induced deeper permafrost thaw and adversely affected C sequestration, which is modulated by N availability. Therefore, it is crucial to examine the responses of diazotrophic communities to warming across the depths of tundra soils. Herein, we carried out one of the deepest sequencing efforts of nitrogenase gene ( nifH ) to investigate how 5 years of experimental winter warming affects Alaskan soil diazotrophic community composition and abundance spanning both the organic and mineral layers. Although soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming, warming significantly ( P <  0.05) enhanced diazotrophic abundance by 86.3% and aboveground plant biomass by 25.2%. Diazotrophic composition in the middle and lower organic layers, detected by nifH sequencing and a microarray-based tool (GeoChip), was markedly altered, with an increase of α-diversity. Changes in diazotrophic abundance and composition significantly correlated with soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass, as shown by structural equation modeling analyses. Therefore, more abundant diazotrophic communities induced by warming may potentially serve as an important mechanism for supplementing biologically available N in this tundra ecosystem. IMPORTANCE With the likelihood that changes in global climate will adversely affect the soil C reservoir in the northern circumpolar permafrost zone, an understanding of the potential role of diazotrophic communities in enhancing biological N 2 fixation, which constrains both plant production and microbial decomposition in tundra soils, is important in elucidating the responses of soil microbial communities to global climate change. A recent study showed that the composition of the diazotrophic community in a tundra soil exhibited no change under a short-term (1.5-year) winter warming experiment. However, it remains crucial to examine whether the lack of diazotrophic community responses to warming is persistent over a longer time period as a possibly important mechanism in stabilizing tundra soil C. Through a detailed characterization of the effects of winter warming on diazotrophic communities, we showed that a long-term (5-year) winter warming substantially enhanced diazotrophic abundance and altered community composition, though soil depth had a stronger influence on diazotrophic community composition than warming. These changes were best explained by changes in soil moisture, soil thaw duration, and plant biomass. These results provide crucial insights into the potential factors that may impact future C and N availability in tundra regions. 
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