Viruses play an important role in the ecology and biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems. Beyond mortality and gene transfer, viruses can reprogram microbial metabolism during infection by expressing auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) involved in photosynthesis, central carbon metabolism, and nutrient cycling. While previous studies have focused on AMG diversity in the sunlit and dark ocean, less is known about the role of viruses in shaping metabolic networks along redox gradients associated with marine oxygen minimum zones (OMZs). Here, we analyzed relatively quantitative viral metagenomic datasets that profiled the oxygen gradient across Eastern Tropical South Pacific (ETSP) OMZ waters, assessing whether OMZ viruses might impact nitrogen (N) cycling via AMGs. Identified viral genomes encoded six N-cycle AMGs associated with denitrification, nitrification, assimilatory nitrate reduction, and nitrite transport. The majority of these AMGs (80%) were identified in T4-like Myoviridae phages, predicted to infect Cyanobacteria and Proteobacteria, or in unclassified archaeal viruses predicted to infect Thaumarchaeota. Four AMGs were exclusive to anoxic waters and had distributions that paralleled homologous microbial genes. Together, these findings suggest viruses modulate N-cycling processes within the ETSP OMZ and may contribute to nitrogen loss throughout the global oceans thus providing a baseline for their inclusion in the ecosystem and geochemical models.
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Rappe, Michael S.
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Bacteriophages encode host‐acquired functional genes known as auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs). Photosynthesis AMGs are commonly found in marine cyanobacteria‐infecting
Myoviridaeand Podoviridaecyanophages, but their ecology remains understudied in freshwater environments. To advance knowledge of this issue, we analysed viral metagenomes collected in the summertime for four years from five lakes and two estuarine locations interconnected by the Chattahoochee River, Southeast USA. Sequences representing ten different AMGs were recovered and found to be prevalent in all sites. Most freshwater AMGs were 10‐fold less abundant than estuarine and marine AMGs and were encoded by novel Myoviridaeand Podoviridaecyanophage genera. Notably, several of the corresponding viral genomes showed endemism to a specific province along the river. This translated into psbAgene phylogenetic clustering patterns that matched a marine vs. freshwater origin indicating that psbAmay serve as a robust classification and source‐tracking biomarker. Genomes classified in a novel viral lineage represented by isolate S‐EIVl contained psbA, which is unprecedented for this lineage. Collectively, our findings indicated that the acquisition of photosynthesis AMGs is a widespread strategy used by cyanophages in aquatic ecosystems, and further indicated the existence of viral provinces in which certain viral species and/or genotypes are locally abundant.
Bordenstein, Seth (Ed.)ABSTRACT Viruses belonging to the Nucleocytoviricota phylum are globally distributed and include members with notably large genomes and complex functional repertoires. Recent studies have shown that these viruses are particularly diverse and abundant in marine systems, but the magnitude of actively replicating Nucleocytoviricota present in ocean habitats remains unclear. In this study, we compiled a curated database of 2,431 Nucleocytoviricota genomes and used it to examine the gene expression of these viruses in a 2.5-day metatranscriptomic time-series from surface waters of the California Current. We identified 145 viral genomes with high levels of gene expression, including 90 Imitervirales and 49 Algavirales viruses. In addition to recovering high expression of core genes involved in information processing that are commonly expressed during viral infection, we also identified transcripts of diverse viral metabolic genes from pathways such as glycolysis, the TCA cycle, and the pentose phosphate pathway, suggesting that virus-mediated reprogramming of central carbon metabolism is common in oceanic surface waters. Surprisingly, we also identified viral transcripts with homology to actin, myosin, and kinesin domains, suggesting that viruses may use these gene products to manipulate host cytoskeletal dynamics during infection. We performed phylogenetic analysis on the virus-encoded myosin and kinesin proteins, which demonstrated that most belong to deep-branching viral clades, but that others appear to have been acquired from eukaryotes more recently. Our results highlight a remarkable diversity of active Nucleocytoviricota in a coastal marine system and underscore the complex functional repertoires expressed by these viruses during infection. IMPORTANCE The discovery of giant viruses has transformed our understanding of viral complexity. Although viruses have traditionally been viewed as filterable infectious agents that lack metabolism, giant viruses can reach sizes rivalling cellular lineages and possess genomes encoding central metabolic processes. Recent studies have shown that giant viruses are widespread in aquatic systems, but the activity of these viruses and the extent to which they reprogram host physiology in situ remains unclear. Here, we show that numerous giant viruses consistently express central metabolic enzymes in a coastal marine system, including components of glycolysis, the TCA cycle, and other pathways involved in nutrient homeostasis. Moreover, we found expression of several viral-encoded actin, myosin, and kinesin genes, indicating viral manipulation of the host cytoskeleton during infection. Our study reveals a high activity of giant viruses in a coastal marine system and indicates they are a diverse and underappreciated component of microbial diversity in the ocean.more » « less
Phage satellites are mobile genetic elements that propagate by parasitizing bacteriophage replication. We report here the discovery of abundant and diverse phage satellites that were packaged as concatemeric repeats within naturally occurring bacteriophage particles in seawater. These same phage-parasitizing mobile elements were found integrated in the genomes of dominant co-occurring bacterioplankton species. Like known phage satellites, many marine phage satellites encoded genes for integration, DNA replication, phage interference, and capsid assembly. Many also contained distinctive gene suites indicative of unique virus hijacking, phage immunity, and mobilization mechanisms. Marine phage satellite sequences were widespread in local and global oceanic virioplankton populations, reflecting their ubiquity, abundance, and temporal persistence in marine planktonic communities worldwide. Their gene content and putative life cycles suggest they may impact host-cell phage immunity and defense, lateral gene transfer, bacteriophage-induced cell mortality and cellular host and virus productivity. Given that marine phage satellites cannot be distinguished from bona fide viral particles via commonly used microscopic techniques, their predicted numbers (∼3.2 × 10 26 in the ocean) may influence current estimates of virus densities, production, and virus-induced mortality. In total, the data suggest that marine phage satellites have potential to significantly impact the ecology and evolution of bacteria and their viruses throughout the oceans. We predict that any habitat that harbors bacteriophage will also harbor similar phage satellites, making them a ubiquitous feature of most microbiomes on Earth.more » « less
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.more » « less