Background: Bacteriophage genomes have mosaic architectures and are replete with small open reading frames of unknown function, presenting challenges in their annotation, comparative analysis, and representation.
Results: We describe here a bioinformatic tool, Phamerator, that assorts protein-coding genes into phamilies of related sequences using pairwise comparisons to generate a database of gene relationships. This database is used to generate genome maps of multiple phages that incorporate nucleotide and amino acid sequence relationships, as well as genes containing conserved domains. Phamerator also generates phamily circle representations of gene phamilies, facilitating analysis of the different evolutionary histories of individual genes that migrate through phage populations by horizontal genetic exchange.
Conclusions: Phamerator represents a useful tool for comparative genomic analysis and comparative representations of bacteriophage genomes.