Populations of at least 20 asteroid species on the Northeast Pacific Coast have recently experienced an extensive outbreak of sea-star (asteroid) wasting disease (SSWD). The disease leads to behavioral changes, lesions, loss of turgor, limb autotomy, and death characterized by rapid degradation ("melting"). Here, we present evidence from experimental challenge studies and field observations that link the mass mortalities to a densovirus (Parvoviridae). Virus-sized material (i.e., <0.2 ?m) from symptomatic tissues that was inoculated into asymptomatic asteroids consistently resulted in SSWD signs whereas animals receiving heat-killed (i.e., control) virus-sized inoculum remained asymptomatic. Viral metagenomic investigations revealed the sea star-associated densovirus (SSaDV) as the most likely candidate virus associated with tissues from symptomatic asteroids. Quantification of SSaDV during transmission trials indicated that progression of SSWD paralleled increased SSaDV load. In field surveys, SSaDV loads were more abundant in symptomatic than in asymptomatic asteroids. SSaDV could be detected in plankton, sediments and in nonasteroid echinoderms, providing a possible mechanism for viral spread. SSaDV was detected in museum specimens of asteroids from 1942, suggesting that it has been present on the North American Pacific Coast for at least 72 y. SSaDV is therefore the most promising candidate disease agent responsible for asteroid mass mortality.
The small single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) bacteriophages of the subfamily Gokushovirinae were traditionally perceived as narrowly targeted, niche-specific viruses infecting obligate parasitic bacteria, such as Chlamydia. The advent of metagenomics revealed gokushoviruses to be widespread in global environmental samples. This study expands knowledge of gokushovirus diversity in the environment by developing a degenerate PCR assay to amplify a portion of the major capsid protein (MCP) gene of gokushoviruses. Over 500 amplicons were sequenced from 10 environmental samples (sediments, sewage, seawater and freshwater), revealing the ubiquity and high diversity of this understudied phage group. Residue-level conservation data generated from multiple alignments was combined with a predicted 3D structure, revealing a tendency for structurally internal residues to be more highly conserved than surface-presenting protein-protein or viral-host interaction domains. Aggregating this data set into a phylogenetic framework, many gokushovirus MCP clades contained samples from multiple environments, although distinct clades dominated the different samples. Antarctic sediment samples contained the most diverse gokushovirus communities, whereas freshwater springs from Florida were the least diverse. Whether the observed diversity is being driven by environmental factors or host-binding interactions remains an open question. The high environmental diversity of this previously overlooked ssDNA viral group necessitates further research elucidating their natural hosts and exploring their ecological roles.
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.
We identified a novel rhabdovirus, American bat vesiculovirus, from postmortem tissue samples from 120 rabies-negative big brown bats with a history of human contact. Five percent of the tested bats were infected with this virus. The extent of zoonotic exposure and possible health effects in humans from this virus are unknown.
Fisheries and aquaculture are impacted sporadically by newly emerged viral diseases. In most cases, searches for a causative pathogen only occur after a serious disease has emerged. As random shotgun sequencing (metagenomics) offers opportunities to identify novel viruses preemptively, the method was tested on nucleic acids extracted from the hepatopancreas of 12 healthy northern pink shrimp Farfantepenaeus duorarum captured from the Gulf of Mexico. Among the sequences, a nodavirus (Farfantepenaeus duorarum nodavirus, FdNV) and a virus with similarities to circoviruses and cycloviruses that possess circular single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) genomes, were identified. The FdNV genome sequence was most closely related phylogenetically to nodaviruses causing white tail disease in Macrobrachium rosenbergii and muscle necrosis disease in Litopenaeus vannamei. While the circular ssDNA virus represents the third to be detected in association with a marine invertebrate, transmission trials are needed to confirm its infectivity for F. duorarum. This study highlights the potential for using metagenomic approaches in fisheries and aquaculture industries to identify new potential pathogens in asymptomatic marine invertebrates, uncharacterized pathogens causing a new disease, or multiple pathogens associated with disease syndromes.
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.
Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), the enzyme responsible for the formation of deoxyribonucleotides from ribonucleotides, is found in all domains of life and many viral genomes. RNRs are also amongst the most abundant genes identified in environmental metagenomes. This study focused on understanding the distribution, diversity, and evolution of RNRs in phages (viruses that infect bacteria). Hidden Markov Model profiles were used to analyze the proteins encoded by 685 completely sequenced double-stranded DNA phages and 22 environmental viral metagenomes to identify RNR homologs in cultured phages and uncultured viral communities, respectively.
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.
Phages play a key role in the marine environment by regulating the transfer of energy between trophic levels and influencing global carbon and nutrient cycles. The diversity of marine phage communities remains difficult to characterize because of the lack of a signature gene common to all phages. Recent studies have demonstrated the presence of host-derived auxiliary metabolic genes in phage genomes, such as those belonging to the Pho regulon, which regulates phosphate uptake and metabolism under low-phosphate conditions. Among the completely sequenced phage genomes in GenBank, this study identified Pho regulon genes in nearly 40% of the marine phage genomes, while only 4% of nonmarine phage genomes contained these genes. While several Pho regulon genes were identified, phoH was the most prevalent, appearing in 42 out of 602 completely sequenced phage genomes. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that phage phoH sequences formed a cluster distinct from those of their bacterial hosts. PCR primers designed to amplify a region of the phoH gene were used to determine the diversity of phage phoH sequences throughout a depth profile in the Sargasso Sea and at six locations worldwide. phoH was present at all sites examined, and a high diversity of phoH sequences was recovered. Most phoH sequences belonged to clusters without any cultured representatives. Each depth and geographic location had a distinct phoH composition, although most phoH clusters were recovered from multiple sites. Overall, phoH is an effective signature gene for examining phage diversity in the marine environment.
There are an estimated 10(30) virioplankton in the world oceans, the majority of which are phages (viruses that infect bacteria). Marine phages encompass enormous genetic diversity, affect biogeochemical cycling of elements, and partially control aspects of prokaryotic production and diversity. Despite their importance, there is a paucity of data describing virioplankton distributions over time and depth in oceanic systems. A decade of high-resolution time-series data collected from the upper 300 m in the northwestern Sargasso Sea revealed recurring temporal and vertical patterns of virioplankton abundance in unprecedented detail. An annual virioplankton maximum developed between 60 and 100 m during periods of summer stratification and eroded during winter convective mixing. The timing and vertical positioning of this seasonal pattern was related to variability in water column stability and the dynamics of specific picophytoplankton and heterotrophic bacterioplankton lineages. Between 60 and 100 m, virioplankton abundance was negatively correlated to the dominant heterotrophic bacterioplankton lineage SAR11, as well as the less abundant picophytoplankton, Synechococcus. In contrast, virioplankton abundance was positively correlated to the dominant picophytoplankton lineage Prochlorococcus, and the less abundant alpha-proteobacteria, Rhodobacteraceae. Seasonally, virioplankton abundances were highly synchronous with Prochlorococcus distributions and the virioplankton to Prochlorococcus ratio remained remarkably constant during periods of water column stratification. The data suggest that a significant fraction of viruses in the mid-euphotic zone of the subtropical gyres may be cyanophages and patterns in their abundance are largely determined by Prochlorococcus dynamics in response to water column stability. This high-resolution, decadal survey of virioplankton abundance provides insight into the possible controls of virioplankton dynamics in the open ocean.
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.
Viruses are the most abundant and diverse genetic entities on Earth; however, broad surveys of viral diversity are hindered by the lack of a universal assay for viruses and the inability to sample a sufficient number of individual hosts. This study utilized vector-enabled metagenomics (VEM) to provide a snapshot of the diversity of DNA viruses present in three mosquito samples from San Diego, California. The majority of the sequences were novel, suggesting that the viral community in mosquitoes, as well as the animal and plant hosts they feed on, is highly diverse and largely uncharacterized. Each mosquito sample contained a distinct viral community. The mosquito viromes contained sequences related to a broad range of animal, plant, insect and bacterial viruses. Animal viruses identified included anelloviruses, circoviruses, herpesviruses, poxviruses, and papillomaviruses, which mosquitoes may have obtained from vertebrate hosts during blood feeding. Notably, sequences related to human papillomaviruses were identified in one of the mosquito samples. Sequences similar to plant viruses were identified in all mosquito viromes, which were potentially acquired through feeding on plant nectar. Numerous bacteriophages and insect viruses were also detected, including a novel densovirus likely infecting Culex erythrothorax. Through sampling insect vectors, VEM enables broad survey of viral diversity and has significantly increased our knowledge of the DNA viruses present in mosquitoes.
To investigate viral pathogens potentially involved in a mortality event of 21 Pacific harbor seals (Phoca vitulina richardsii) in California in 2000, viral metagenomics was performed directly on lung samples from five individuals. Metagenomics revealed a novel seal anellovirus (SealAV), which clusters phylogenetically with anelloviruses from California sea lions and domestic cats. Using specific PCR, SealAV was identified in lung tissue from two of five animals involved in the 2000 mortality event, as well as one of 20 harbor seal samples examined post-mortem in 2008. The identification of SealAV in multiple years demonstrates that this virus is persistent in the harbor seal population. SealAV is the second anellovirus reported in the lungs of pinnipeds, suggesting that anellovirus infections may be common amongst marine mammals and that more research is needed to understand the roles of these viruses in marine mammal health and disease.
The relationship between phage and their microbial hosts is difficult to elucidate in complex natural ecosystems. Engineered systems performing enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR), offer stable, lower complexity communities for studying phage-host interactions. Here, metagenomic data from an EBPR reactor dominated by Candidatus Accumulibacter phosphatis (CAP), led to the recovery of three complete and six partial phage genomes. Heat-stable nucleoid structuring (H-NS) protein, a global transcriptional repressor in bacteria, was identified in one of the complete phage genomes (EPV1), and was most similar to a homolog in CAP. We infer that EPV1 is a CAP-specific phage and has the potential to repress up to 6% of host genes based on the presence of putative H-NS binding sites in the CAP genome. These genes include CRISPR associated proteins and a Type III restriction-modification system, which are key host defense mechanisms against phage infection. Further, EPV1 was the only member of the phage community found in an EBPR microbial metagenome collected seven months prior. We propose that EPV1 laterally acquired H-NS from CAP providing it with a means to reduce bacterial defenses, a selective advantage over other phage in the EBPR system. Phage encoded H-NS could constitute a previously unrecognized weapon in the phage-host arms race.
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.
Viral genomes often contain genes recently acquired from microbes. In some cases (for example, psbA) the proteins encoded by these genes have been shown to be important for viral replication. In this study, using a unique search strategy on the Global Ocean Survey (GOS) metagenomes in combination with marine virome and microbiome pyrosequencing-based datasets, we characterize previously undetected microbial metabolic capabilities concealed within the genomes of uncultured marine viral communities. A total of 34 microbial gene families were detected on 452 viral GOS scaffolds. The majority of auxiliary metabolic genes found on these scaffolds have never been reported in phages. Host genes detected in viruses were mainly divided between genes encoding for different energy metabolism pathways, such as electron transport and newly identified photosystem genes, or translation and post-translation mechanism related. Our findings suggest previously undetected ways, in which marine phages adapt to their hosts and improve their fitness, including translation and post-translation level control over the host rather than the already known transcription level control.
Current knowledge of plant virus diversity is biased towards agents of visible and economically important diseases. Less is known about viruses that have not caused major diseases in crops, or viruses from native vegetation, which are a reservoir of biodiversity that can contribute to viral emergence. Discovery of these plant viruses is hindered by the traditional approach of sampling individual symptomatic plants. Since many damaging plant viruses are transmitted by insect vectors, we have developed "vector-enabled metagenomics" (VEM) to investigate the diversity of plant viruses. VEM involves sampling of insect vectors (in this case, whiteflies) from plants, followed by purification of viral particles and metagenomic sequencing. The VEM approach exploits the natural ability of highly mobile adult whiteflies to integrate viruses from many plants over time and space, and leverages the capability of metagenomics for discovering novel viruses. This study utilized VEM to describe the DNA viral community from whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci) collected from two important agricultural regions in Florida, USA. VEM successfully characterized the active and abundant viruses that produce disease symptoms in crops, as well as the less abundant viruses infecting adjacent native vegetation. PCR assays designed from the metagenomic sequences enabled the complete sequencing of four novel begomovirus genome components, as well as the first discovery of plant virus satellites in North America. One of the novel begomoviruses was subsequently identified in symptomatic Chenopodium ambrosiodes from the same field site, validating VEM as an effective method for proactive monitoring of plant viruses without a priori knowledge of the pathogens. This study demonstrates the power of VEM for describing the circulating viral community in a given region, which will enhance our understanding of plant viral diversity, and facilitate emerging plant virus surveillance and management of viral diseases.
Knowledge of marine phages is highly biased toward double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) phages; however, recent metagenomic surveys have also identified single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) phages in the oceans. Here, we describe two complete ssDNA phage genomes that were reconstructed from a viral metagenome from 80?m depth at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site in the northwestern Sargasso Sea and examine their spatial and temporal distributions. Both genomes (SARss?1 and SARss?2) exhibited similarity to known phages of the Microviridae family in terms of size, GC content, genome organization and protein sequence. PCR amplification of the replication initiation protein (Rep) gene revealed narrow and distinct depth distributions for the newly described ssDNA phages within the upper 200?m of the water column at the BATS site. Comparison of Rep gene sequences obtained from the BATS site over time revealed changes in the diversity of ssDNA phages over monthly time scales, although some nearly identical sequences were recovered from samples collected 4 years apart. Examination of ssDNA phage diversity along transects through the North Atlantic Ocean revealed a positive correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance between sampling sites. Together, the data suggest fundamental differences between the distribution of these ssDNA phages and the distribution of known marine dsDNA phages, possibly because of differences in host range, host distribution, virion stability, or viral evolution mechanisms and rates. Future work needs to elucidate the host ranges for oceanic ssDNA phages and determine their ecological roles in the marine ecosystem.
Remarkable morphological diversity of virus-like particles was observed by transmission electron microscopy in a hypersaline water sample from Lake Retba, Senegal. The majority of particles morphologically resembled hyperthermophilic archaeal DNA viruses isolated from extreme geothermal environments. Some hypersaline viral morphotypes have not been previously observed in nature, and less than 1% of observed particles had a head-and-tail morphology, which is typical for bacterial DNA viruses. Culture-independent analysis of the microbial diversity in the sample suggested the dominance of extremely halophilic archaea. Few of the 16S sequences corresponded to known archeal genera (Haloquadratum, Halorubrum and Natronomonas), whereas the majority represented novel archaeal clades. Three sequences corresponded to a new basal lineage of the haloarchaea. Bacteria belonged to four major phyla, consistent with the known diversity in saline environments. Metagenomic sequencing of DNA from the purified virus-like particles revealed very few similarities to the NCBI non-redundant database at either the nucleotide or amino acid level. Some of the identifiable virus sequences were most similar to previously described haloarchaeal viruses, but no sequence similarities were found to archaeal viruses from extreme geothermal environments. A large proportion of the sequences had similarity to previously sequenced viral metagenomes from solar salterns.
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.
Genes, like organisms, struggle for existence, and the most successful genes persist and widely disseminate in nature. The unbiased determination of the most successful genes requires access to sequence data from a wide range of phylogenetic taxa and ecosystems, which has finally become achievable thanks to the deluge of genomic and metagenomic sequences. Here, we analyzed 10 million protein-encoding genes and gene tags in sequenced bacterial, archaeal, eukaryotic and viral genomes and metagenomes, and our analysis demonstrates that genes encoding transposases are the most prevalent genes in nature. The finding that these genes, classically considered as selfish genes, outnumber essential or housekeeping genes suggests that they offer selective advantage to the genomes and ecosystems they inhabit, a hypothesis in agreement with an emerging body of literature. Their mobile nature not only promotes dissemination of transposable elements within and between genomes but also leads to mutations and rearrangements that can accelerate biological diversification and--consequently--evolution. By securing their own replication and dissemination, transposases guarantee to thrive so long as nucleic acid-based life forms exist.
The species composition and metabolic potential of microbial and viral communities are predictable and stable for most ecosystems. This apparent stability contradicts theoretical models as well as the viral-microbial dynamics observed in simple ecosystems, both of which show Kill-the-Winner behavior causing cycling of the dominant taxa. Microbial and viral metagenomes were obtained from four human-controlled aquatic environments at various time points separated by one day to >1 year. These environments were maintained within narrow geochemical bounds and had characteristic species composition and metabolic potentials at all time points. However, underlying this stability were rapid changes at the fine-grained level of viral genotypes and microbial strains. These results suggest a model wherein functionally redundant microbial and viral taxa are cycling at the level of viral genotypes and virus-sensitive microbial strains. Microbial taxa, viral taxa, and metabolic function persist over time in stable ecosystems and both communities fluctuate in a Kill-the-Winner manner at the level of viral genotypes and microbial strains.
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.
Roseophage SIO1 is a lytic marine phage that infects Roseobacter SIO67, a member of the Roseobacter clade of near-shore alphaproteobacteria. Roseophage SIO1 was first isolated in 1989 and sequenced in 2000. We have re-sequenced and re-annotated the original isolate. Our current annotation could only assign functions to seven additional open reading frames, indicating that, despite the advances in bioinformatics tools and increased genomic resources, we are still far from being able to translate phage genomic sequences into biological functions. In 2001, we isolated four new strains of Roseophage SIO1 from California near-shore locations. The genomes of all four were sequenced and compared against the original Roseophage SIO1 isolated in 1989. A high degree of conservation was evident across all five genomes; comparisons at the nucleotide level yielded an average 97% identity. The observed differences were clustered in protein-encoding regions and were mostly synonymous. The one strain that was found to possess an expanded host range also showed notable changes in putative tail protein-coding regions. Despite the possibly rapid evolution of phage and the mostly uncharacterized diversity found in viral metagenomic data sets, these findings indicate that viral genomes such as the genome of SIO1-like Roseophages can be stably maintained over ecologically significant time and distance (i.e. over a decade and approximately 50 km).
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.
This collection of laboratory protocols describes the steps to collect viruses from various samples with the specific aim of generating viral metagenome sequence libraries (viromes). Viral metagenomics, the study of uncultured viral nucleic acid sequences from different biomes, relies on several concentration, purification, extraction, sequencing and heuristic bioinformatic methods. No single technique can provide an all-inclusive approach, and therefore the protocols presented here will be discussed in terms of hypothetical projects. However, care must be taken to individualize each step depending on the source and type of viral-particles. This protocol is a description of the processes we have successfully used to: (i) concentrate viral particles from various types of samples, (ii) eliminate contaminating cells and free nucleic acids and (iii) extract, amplify and purify viral nucleic acids. Overall, a sample can be processed to isolate viral nucleic acids suitable for high-throughput sequencing in approximately 1 week.
A viral metagenomic study was performed to investigate potential viral pathogens associated with a mortality event of three captive California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). This study identified a novel California sea lion anellovirus (ZcAV), with 35 % amino acid identity in the ORF1 region to feline anelloviruses. The double-stranded replicative form of ZcAV was detected in lung tissue, suggesting that ZcAV replicates in sea lion lungs. Specific PCR revealed the presence of ZcAV in the lung tissue of all three sea lions involved in the mortality event, but not in three other sea lions from the same zoo. In addition, ZcAV was detected at low frequency (11 %) in the lungs of wild sea lions. The higher prevalence of ZcAV and presence of the double-stranded replicative form in the lungs of sea lions from the mortality event suggest that ZcAV was associated with the death of these animals.
Ancient biologically mediated sedimentary carbonate deposits, including stromatolites and other microbialites, provide insight into environmental conditions on early Earth. The primary limitation to interpreting these records is our lack of understanding regarding microbial processes and the preservation of geochemical signatures in contemporary microbialite systems. Using a combination of metagenomic sequencing and isotopic analyses, this study describes the identity, metabolic potential and chemical processes of microbial communities from living microbialites from Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico. Metagenomic sequencing revealed a diverse, redox-dependent microbial community associated with the microbialites. The microbialite community is distinct from other marine and freshwater microbial communities, and demonstrates extensive environmental adaptation. The microbialite metagenomes contain a large number of genes involved in the production of exopolymeric substances and the formation of biofilms, creating a complex, spatially structured environment. In addition to the spatial complexity of the biofilm, microbial activity is tightly controlled by sensory and regulatory systems, which allow for coordination of autotrophic and heterotrophic processes. Isotopic measurements of the intracrystalline organic matter demonstrate the importance of heterotrophic respiration of photoautotrophic biomass in the precipitation of calcium carbonate. The genomic and stable isotopic data presented here significantly enhance our evolving knowledge of contemporary biomineralization processes, and are directly applicable to studies of ancient microbialites.
Human fecal matter contains a large number of viruses, and current bacterial indicators used for monitoring water quality do not correlate with the presence of pathogenic viruses. Adenoviruses and enteroviruses have often been used to identify fecal pollution in the environment; however, other viruses shed in fecal matter may more accurately detect fecal pollution. The purpose of this study was to develop a baseline understanding of the types of viruses found in raw sewage. PCR was used to detect adenoviruses, enteroviruses, hepatitis B viruses, herpesviruses, morbilliviruses, noroviruses, papillomaviruses, picobirnaviruses, reoviruses, and rotaviruses in raw sewage collected throughout the United States. Adenoviruses and picobirnaviruses were detected in 100% of raw sewage samples and 25% and 33% of final effluent samples, respectively. Enteroviruses and noroviruses were detected in 75% and 58% of raw sewage samples, respectively, and both viral groups were found in 8% of final effluent samples. This study showed that adenoviruses, enteroviruses, noroviruses, and picobirnaviruses are widespread in raw sewage. Since adenoviruses and picobirnaviruses were detected in 100% of raw sewage samples, they are potential markers of fecal contamination. Additionally, this research uncovered previously unknown sequence diversity in human picobirnaviruses. This baseline understanding of viruses in raw sewage will enable educated decisions to be made regarding the use of different viruses in water quality assessments.
Viral metagenomics, consisting of viral particle purification and shotgun sequencing, is a powerful technique for discovering viruses associated with diseases with no definitive etiology, viruses that share limited homology with known viruses, or viruses that are not culturable. Here we used viral metagenomics to examine viruses associated with sea turtle fibropapillomatosis (FP), a debilitating neoplastic disease affecting sea turtles worldwide. By means of purifying and shotgun sequencing the viral community directly from the fibropapilloma of a Florida green sea turtle, a novel single-stranded DNA virus, sea turtle tornovirus 1 (STTV1), was discovered. The single-stranded, circular genome of STTV1 was approximately 1,800 nucleotides in length. STTV1 has only weak amino acid level identities (25%) to chicken anemia virus in short regions of its genome; hence, STTV1 may represent the first member of a novel virus family. A total of 35 healthy turtles and 27 turtles with FP were tested for STTV1 using PCR, and only 2 turtles severely afflicted with FP were positive. The affected turtles were systemically infected with STTV1, since STTV1 was found in blood and all major organs. STTV1 exists as a quasispecies, with several genome variants identified in the fibropapilloma of each positive turtle, suggesting rapid evolution of this virus. The STTV1 variants were identical over the majority of their genomes but contained a hypervariable region with extensive divergence. This study demonstrates the potential of viral metagenomics for discovering novel viruses directly from animal tissue, which can enhance our understanding of viral evolution and diversity.
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.
Microbialites are biologically mediated carbonate deposits found in diverse environments worldwide. To explore the organisms and processes involved in microbialite formation, this study integrated genomic, lipid, and both organic and inorganic stable isotopic analyses to examine five discrete depth horizons spanning the surface 25?mm of a modern freshwater microbialite from Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico. Distinct bacterial communities and geochemical signatures were observed in each microbialite layer. Photoautotrophic organisms accounted for approximately 65% of the sequences in the surface community and produced biomass with distinctive lipid biomarker and isotopic (?(13)C) signatures. This photoautotrophic biomass was efficiently degraded in the deeper layers by heterotrophic organisms, primarily sulfate-reducing proteobacteria. Two spatially distinct zones of carbonate precipitation were observed within the microbialite, with the first zone corresponding to the phototroph-dominated portion of the microbialite and the second zone associated with the presence of sulfate-reducing heterotrophs. The coupling of photoautotrophic production, heterotrophic decomposition, and remineralization of organic matter led to the incorporation of a characteristic biogenic signature into the inorganic CaCO(3) matrix. Overall, spatially resolved multidisciplinary analyses of the microbialite enabled correlations to be made between the distribution of specific organisms, precipitation of carbonate, and preservation of unique lipid and isotopic geochemical signatures. These findings are critical for understanding the formation of modern microbialites and have implications for the interpretation of ancient microbialite records.
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.
Residing in a phylum of their own, ctenophores are gelatinous zooplankton that drift through the oceans water column. Although ctenophores are known to be parasitized by a variety of eukaryotes, no studies have examined their bacterial associates. This study describes the bacterial communities associated with the lobate ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi and its natural predator Beroe ovata in Tampa Bay, Florida, USA. Investigations using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) and cloning and sequencing of 16S rRNA genes demonstrated that ctenophore bacterial communities were distinct from the surrounding water. In addition, each ctenophore genus contained a unique microbiota. Ctenophore samples contained fewer bacterial operational taxonomic units (OTUs) by T-RFLP and lower diversity communities by 16S rRNA gene sequencing than the water column. Both ctenophore genera contained sequences related to bacteria previously described in marine invertebrates, and sequences similar to a sea anemone pathogen were abundant in B. ovata. Temporal sampling revealed that the ctenophore-associated bacterial communities varied over time, with no single OTU detected at all time points. This is the first report of distinct and dynamic bacterial communities associated with ctenophores, suggesting that these microbial consortia may play important roles in ctenophore ecology. Future work needs to elucidate the functional roles and mode of acquisition of these bacteria.
Over the past two decades, marine virology has progressed from a curiosity to an intensely studied topic of critical importance to oceanography. At concentrations of approximately 10 million viruses per milliliter of surface seawater, viruses are the most abundant biological entities in the oceans. The majority of these viruses are phages (viruses that infect bacteria). Through lysing their bacterial hosts, marine phages control bacterial abundance, affect community composition, and impact global biogeochemical cycles. In addition, phages influence their hosts through selection for resistance, horizontal gene transfer, and manipulation of bacterial metabolism. Recent work has also demonstrated that marine phages are extremely diverse and can carry a variety of auxiliary metabolic genes encoding critical ecological functions. This review is structured as a scientific "truth or dare," revealing several well-established "truths" about marine viruses and presenting a few "dares" for the research community to undertake in future studies.
Phages (viruses that infect bacteria) have gained significant attention because of their abundance, diversity and important ecological roles. However, the lack of a universal gene shared by all phages presents a challenge for phage identification and characterization, especially in environmental samples where it is difficult to culture phage-host systems. Homologous conserved genes (or "signature genes") present in groups of closely-related phages can be used to explore phage diversity and define evolutionary relationships amongst these phages. Bioinformatic approaches are needed to identify candidate signature genes and design PCR primers to amplify those genes from environmental samples; however, there is currently no existing computational tool that biologists can use for this purpose.
Related JoVE Video
Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.