Whiteflies from the Bemisia tabaci species complex have the ability to transmit a large number of plant viruses and are some of the most detrimental pests in agriculture. Although whiteflies are known to transmit both DNA and RNA viruses, most of the diversity has been recorded for the former, specifically for the Begomovirus genus. This study investigated the total diversity of DNA and RNA viruses found in whiteflies collected from a single site in Florida to evaluate if there are additional, previously undetected viral types within the B. tabaci vector. Metagenomic analysis of viral DNA extracted from the whiteflies only resulted in the detection of begomoviruses. In contrast, whiteflies contained sequences similar to RNA viruses from divergent groups, with a diversity that extends beyond currently described viruses. The metagenomic analysis of whiteflies also led to the first report of a whitefly-transmitted RNA virus similar to Cowpea mild mottle virus (CpMMV Florida) (genus Carlavirus) in North America. Further investigation resulted in the detection of CpMMV Florida in native and cultivated plants growing near the original field site of whitefly collection and determination of its experimental host range. Analysis of complete CpMMV Florida genomes recovered from whiteflies and plants suggests that the current classification criteria for carlaviruses need to be reevaluated. Overall, metagenomic analysis supports that DNA plant viruses carried by B. tabaci are dominated by begomoviruses, whereas significantly less is known about RNA viruses present in this damaging insect vector.
Members of the family Circoviridae, specifically the genus Circovirus, were thought to infect only vertebrates; however, members of a sister group under the same family, the proposed genus Cyclovirus, have been detected recently in insects. In an effort to explore the diversity of cycloviruses and better understand the evolution of these novel ssDNA viruses, here we present five cycloviruses isolated from three dragonfly species (Orthetrum sabina, Xanthocnemis zealandica and Rhionaeschna multicolor) collected in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, respectively. The genomes of these five viruses share similar genome structure to other cycloviruses, with a circular ~1.7 kb genome and two major bidirectionally transcribed ORFs. The genomic sequence data gathered during this study were combined with all cyclovirus genomes available in public databases to identify conserved motifs and regulatory elements in the intergenic regions, as well as determine diversity and recombinant regions within their genomes. The genomes reported here represent four different cyclovirus species, three of which are novel. Our results confirm that cycloviruses circulate widely in winged-insect populations; in eight different cyclovirus species identified in dragonflies to date, some of these exhibit a broad geographical distribution. Recombination analysis revealed both intra- and inter-species recombination events amongst cycloviruses, including genomes recovered from disparate sources (e.g. goat meat and human faeces). Similar to other well-characterized circular ssDNA viruses, recombination may play an important role in cyclovirus evolution.
To understand the similarities and differences between a free living viral population and its co-occurring temperate population, metagenomes of each type were prepared from the same seawater sample from Tampa Bay, FL. Libraries were prepared from extracted DNA of the ambient viruses and induced prophages from the co-occurring, viral-reduced microbial assemblage. Duplicate libraries were also prepared using the same DNA amplified by multiple displacement amplification. A non-viral-reduced, induced, amplified viral dataset from the same site in 2005 was reanalysed for temporal comparison. The induced viral metagenome was higher in identifiable virus sequences and differed from the other three datasets based on principal component, rarefaction, trinucleotide composition and contig spectrum analyses. This study indicated that induced prophages are unique and have lower overall community diversity than ambient viral populations from the same site. Both of the amplified contemporary metagenomes were enriched in single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viral sequences. Six and 16 complete, circular ssDNA viral genomes were assembled from the amplified induced and ambient libraries, respectively, mostly similar to circoviruses. The amplified ambient metagenome contained genomes similar to an RNA-DNA hybrid virus recently identified in a hot spring and to an ssDNA virus infecting the diatom Chaetoceros.
A novel cyclovirus (proposed genus "Cyclovirus", family Circoviridae) was discovered in a specimen of Eurycotis floridana (Walker), also known as the Florida woods cockroach or palmetto bug, collected from Tarpon Springs, Florida. The Florida woods cockroach-associated cyclovirus GS140 (FWCasCyV-GS140) was obtained through a degenerate PCR assay and showed 64 % genome-wide pairwise identity to a cyclovirus identified in bat feces. This finding supports recent reports suggesting that Circoviridae members, traditionally thought to only infect vertebrates, are present within insect populations.
As dominant members of marine mesozooplankton communities, copepods play critical roles in oceanic food webs and biogeochemical cycling. Despite the ecological significance of copepods, little is known regarding the causes of copepod mortality, and up to 35% of total copepod mortality cannot be accounted for by predation alone. Viruses have been established as ecologically important infectious agents in the oceans; however, viral infection has not been investigated in mesozooplankton communities. Here we used molecular and microscopic techniques to document viral infection in natural populations of the calanoid copepods Acartia tonsa (Dana) and Labidocera aestiva (Wheeler) in Tampa Bay, FL. Viral metagenomics revealed previously undocumented viruses in each species, named Acartia tonsa copepod circo-like virus (AtCopCV) and Labidocera aestiva copepod circo-like virus (LaCopCV). LaCopCV was found to be extremely prevalent and abundant in L. aestiva populations, with up to 100% prevalence in some samples and average viral loads of 1.13 × 10(5) copies per individual. LaCopCV transcription was also detected in the majority of L. aestiva individuals, indicating viral activity. AtCopCV was sporadically detected in A. tonsa populations year-round, suggesting temporal variability in viral infection dynamics. Finally, virus-like particles of unknown identity were observed in the connective tissues of A. tonsa and L. aestiva by transmission electron microscopy, demonstrating that viruses were actively proliferating in copepod connective tissue as opposed to infecting gut contents, parasites, or symbionts. Taken together, these results provide strong independent lines of evidence for active viral infection in dominant copepod species, indicating that viruses may significantly influence mesozooplankton ecology.
Viral metagenomics, or shotgun sequencing of purified viral particles, has revolutionized the field of environmental virology by allowing the exploration of viral communities in a variety of sample types throughout the biosphere. The introduction of viral metagenomics has demonstrated that dominant viruses in environmental communities are not well-represented by the cultured viruses in existing sequence databases. Viral metagenomic studies have provided insights into viral ecology by elucidating the genetic potential, community structure, and biogeography of environmental viruses. In addition, viral metagenomics has expanded current knowledge of virus-host interactions by uncovering genes that may allow viruses to manipulate their hosts in unexpected ways. The intrinsic potential for virus discovery through viral metagenomics can help advance a wide array of disciplines including evolutionary biology, pathogen surveillance, and biotechnology.
Dragonfly cyclovirus (DfCyV), a new species of ssDNA virus discovered using viral metagenomics in dragonflies (family Libellulidae) from the Kingdom of Tonga. Metagenomic sequences of DfCyV were similar to viruses of the recently proposed genus Cyclovirus within the family Circoviridae. Specific PCRs resulted in the recovery of 21 DfCyV genomes from three dragonfly species (Pantala flavescens, Tholymis tillarga and Diplacodes bipunctata). The 1741 nt DfCyV genomes share >95?% nucleotide identity and are classified into 11 subtypes representing a single strain. The DfCyV genomes share 48-63?% genome-wide nucleotide identity with cycloviruses identified in human faecal samples. Recombination analysis revealed three recombinant DfCyV genomes, suggesting that recombination plays an important role in cyclovirus evolution. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a circular ssDNA virus identified in insects, and the data may help elucidate evolutionary links among novel Circoviridae recently identified in animals and environmental samples.
The use of metagenomics for virus discovery in clinical samples has opened new opportunities for understanding the aetiology of unexplained illness. This study explores the potential of this sequence-independent approach in a public-health setting, by systematic analysis of samples cultured from patients with unexplained illness through a combination of PCR-based assays and viral metagenomics. In total, 1834 cell-culture isolates were collected between 1994 and 2007 through the Enterovirus Surveillance programme in the Netherlands. During the 13 year period, seven samples that exhibited reproducible cytopathogenic effects in cell culture tested negative in standard PCR assays for a range of viruses. In order to fill the diagnostic gap, viral metagenomics was applied to these culture supernatants, resulting in the rapid identification of viruses in all of the samples. The unexplained samples contained BK polyomavirus, herpes simplex virus, Newcastle disease virus and the recently discovered Saffold viruses (SAFV) (which dominated the unexplained samples; n=4). The full genomic sequences of four SAFV genotype 3 (SAFV-3) viruses, which share 88-93?% nucleotide identity with known SAFV-3 viruses, are reported. Further screening for SAFV in additional cultured, unidentified clinical isolates from 2008 and 2009 resulted in identification of another SAFV-positive sample. Although the pathogenicity of the identified viruses has not been established, this study demonstrates that viral metagenomics is a powerful tool that can be integrated into public-health monitoring efforts to investigate unidentified viruses in cell cultures from clinical isolates where standard PCR assays fail to detect viruses.
Accurate indicators of fecal pollution are needed in order to minimize public health risks associated with wastewater contamination in recreational waters. However, the bacterial indicators currently used for monitoring water quality do not correlate with the presence of pathogens. Here we demonstrate that the plant pathogen Pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV) is widespread and abundant in wastewater from the United States, suggesting the utility of this virus as an indicator of human fecal pollution. Quantitative PCR was used to determine the abundance of PMMoV in raw sewage, treated wastewater, seawater exposed to wastewater, and fecal samples and/or intestinal homogenates from a wide variety of animals. PMMoV was present in all wastewater samples at concentrations greater than 1 million copies per milliliter of raw sewage. Despite the ubiquity of PMMoV in human feces, this virus was not detected in the majority of animal fecal samples tested, with the exception of chicken and seagull samples. PMMoV was detected in four out of six seawater samples collected near point sources of secondary treated wastewater off southeastern Florida, where it co-occurred with several other pathogens and indicators of fecal pollution. Since PMMoV was not found in nonpolluted seawater samples and could be detected in surface seawater for approximately 1 week after its initial introduction, the presence of PMMoV in the marine environment reflects a recent contamination event. Together, these data demonstrate that PMMoV is a promising new indicator of fecal pollution in coastal environments.
Single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses with circular genomes are the smallest viruses known to infect eukaryotes. The present study identified 10 novel genomes similar to ssDNA circoviruses through data-mining of public viral metagenomes. The metagenomic libraries included samples from reclaimed water and three different marine environments (Chesapeake Bay, British Columbia coastal waters and Sargasso Sea). All the genomes have similarities to the replication (Rep) protein of circoviruses; however, only half have genomic features consistent with known circoviruses. Some of the genomes exhibit a mixture of genomic features associated with different families of ssDNA viruses (i.e. circoviruses, geminiviruses and parvoviruses). Unique genome architectures and phylogenetic analysis of the Rep protein suggest that these viruses belong to novel genera and/or families. Investigating the complex community of ssDNA viruses in the environment can lead to the discovery of divergent species and help elucidate evolutionary links between ssDNA viruses.
Reclaimed water use is an important component of sustainable water resource management. However, there are concerns regarding pathogen transport through this alternative water supply. This study characterized the viral community found in reclaimed water and compared it with viruses in potable water. Reclaimed water contained 1000-fold more virus-like particles than potable water, having approximately 10(8) VLPs per millilitre. Metagenomic analyses revealed that most of the viruses in both reclaimed and potable water were novel. Bacteriophages dominated the DNA viral community in both reclaimed and potable water, but reclaimed water had a distinct phage community based on phage family distributions and host representation within each family. Eukaryotic viruses similar to plant pathogens and invertebrate picornaviruses dominated RNA metagenomic libraries. Established human pathogens were not detected in reclaimed water viral metagenomes, which contained a wealth of novel single-stranded DNA and RNA viruses related to plant, animal and insect viruses. Therefore, reclaimed water may play a role in the dissemination of highly stable viruses. Information regarding viruses present in reclaimed water but not in potable water can be used to identify new bioindicators of water quality. Future studies will need to investigate the infectivity and host range of these viruses to evaluate the impacts of reclaimed water use on human and ecosystem health.
Geminiviruses have emerged as serious agricultural pathogens. Despite all the species that have been already catalogued, new molecular techniques continue to expand the diversity and geographical ranges of these single-stranded DNA viruses and their associated satellite molecules. Since all geminiviruses are insect-transmitted, examination of insect vector populations through vector-enabled metagenomics (VEM) has been recently used to investigate the diversity of geminiviruses transmitted by a specific vector in a given region. Here we used a more comprehensive adaptation of the VEM approach by surveying small circular DNA viruses found within top insect predators, specifically dragonflies (Epiprocta). This predator-enabled approach is not limited to viral groups transmitted by specific vectors since dragonflies can accumulate the wide range of viruses transmitted by their diverse insect prey. Analysis of six dragonflies collected from an agricultural field in Puerto Rico culminated in the discovery of the first mastrevirus (Dragonfly-associated mastrevirus; DfasMV) and alphasatellite molecule (Dragonfly-associated alphasatellite; Dfas-alphasatellite) from the Caribbean. Since DfasMV and Dfas-alphasatellite are divergent from the limited number of sequences that have been reported from the Americas, this study unequivocally demonstrates that there have been at least two independent past introductions of both mastreviruses and alphasatellites to the New World. Overall, the use of predacious insects as sampling tools can profoundly alter our views of natural plant virus diversity and biogeography by allowing the discovery of novel geminiviruses and associated satellite molecules without a priori knowledge of the types of viruses or insect vectors in a given area.
Viruses with circular ssDNA genomes that encode a replication initiator protein (Rep) are among the smallest viruses known to infect both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In the past few years an overwhelming diversity of novel circular Rep-encoding ssDNA (CRESS-DNA) viruses has been unearthed from various hosts and environmental sources. Since there is limited information regarding CRESS-DNA viruses in invertebrates, this study explored the diversity of CRESS-DNA viruses circulating among insect populations by targeting dragonflies (Epiprocta), top insect predators that accumulate viruses from their insect prey over space and time. Using degenerate PCR and rolling circle amplification coupled with restriction digestion, 17 CRESS-DNA viral genomes were recovered from eight different dragonfly species collected in tropical and temperate regions. Nine of the genomes are similar to cycloviruses and represent five species within this genus, suggesting that cycloviruses are commonly associated with insects. Three of the CRESS-DNA viruses share conserved genomic features with recently described viruses similar to the mycovirus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum hypovirulence-associated DNA virus 1, leading to the proposal of the genus Gemycircularvirus. The remaining viruses are divergent species representing four novel CRESS-DNA viral genera, including a gokushovirus-like prokaryotic virus (microphage) and three eukaryotic viruses with Reps similar to circoviruses. The novelty of CRESS-DNA viruses identified in dragonflies using simple molecular techniques indicates that there is an unprecedented diversity of ssDNA viruses among insect populations.
Despite their small size and limited protein-coding capacity, the rapid evolution rates of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses have led to their emergence as serious plant and animal pathogens. Recently, metagenomics has revealed an unprecedented diversity of ssDNA viruses, expanding their known environmental distributions and host ranges. This review summarizes and contrasts the basic characteristics of known circular ssDNA viral groups, providing a resource for analyzing the wealth of ssDNA viral sequences identified through metagenomics. Since ssDNA viruses are largely identified based on conserved rolling circle replication proteins, this review highlights distinguishing motifs and catalytic residues important for replication. Genomes identified through metagenomics have demonstrated unique ssDNA viral genome architectures and revealed characteristics that blur the boundaries between previously well-defined groups. Metagenomic discovery of ssDNA viruses has created both a challenge to current taxonomic classification schemes and an opportunity to revisit hypotheses regarding the evolutionary history of these viruses.
Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV; family Nanoviridae, genus Babuvirus) is a multi-component, ssDNA virus, which causes widespread banana crop losses throughout tropical Africa and Australasia. We determined the full genome sequences of 12 BBTV isolates from the Kingdom of Tonga and analysed these together with previously determined BBTV sequences to show that reassortment and both inter- and intra-component recombination have all been relatively frequent occurrences during BBTV evolution. We found that whereas DNA-U3 components display evidence of complex inter- and intra-component recombination, all of the South Pacific DNA-R components have a common intra-component recombinant origin spanning the replication-associated protein gene. Altogether, the DNA-U3 and DNA-M components display a greater degree of inter-component recombination than the DNA-R, -S, -C and -M components. The breakpoint distribution of the inter-component recombination events reveals a primary recombination hotspot around the 5 side of the common region major and, in accordance with recombination hotspots detectable in related ssDNA viruses, a secondary recombination hotspot near the origin of virion-strand replication.
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