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  1. Abstract

    The fate of oceanic carbon and nutrients depends on interactions between viruses, prokaryotes, and unicellular eukaryotes (protists) in a highly interconnected planktonic food web. To date, few controlled mechanistic studies of these interactions exist, and where they do, they are largely pairwise, focusing either on viral infection (i.e., virocells) or protist predation. Here we studied population-level responses ofSynechococcuscyanobacterial virocells (i.e., cyanovirocells) to the protistOxyrrhis marinausing transcriptomics, endo- and exo-metabolomics, photosynthetic efficiency measurements, and microscopy. Protist presence had no measurable impact onSynechococcustranscripts or endometabolites. The cyanovirocells alone had a smaller intracellular transcriptional and metabolic response than cyanovirocells co-cultured with protists, displaying known patterns of virus-mediated metabolic reprogramming while releasing diverse exometabolites during infection. When protists were added, several exometabolites disappeared, suggesting microbial consumption. In addition, the intracellular cyanovirocell impact was largest, with 4.5- and 10-fold more host transcripts and endometabolites, respectively, responding to protists, especially those involved in resource and energy production. Physiologically, photosynthetic efficiency also increased, and together with the transcriptomics and metabolomics findings suggest that cyanovirocell metabolic demand is highest when protists are present. These data illustrate cyanovirocell responses to protist presence that are not yet considered when linking microbial physiology to global-scale biogeochemical processes.

  2. Stajich, Jason E. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We present 49 metagenome assemblies of the microbiome associated with Sphagnum (peat moss) collected from ambient, artificially warmed, and geothermally warmed conditions across Europe. These data will enable further research regarding the impact of climate change on plant-microbe symbiosis, ecology, and ecosystem functioning of northern peatland ecosystems.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Microbial sulfur metabolism contributes to biogeochemical cycling on global scales. Sulfur metabolizing microbes are infected by phages that can encode auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) to alter sulfur metabolism within host cells but remain poorly characterized. Here we identified 191 phages derived from twelve environments that encoded 227 AMGs for oxidation of sulfur and thiosulfate ( dsrA , dsrC/tusE , soxC , soxD and soxYZ ). Evidence for retention of AMGs during niche-differentiation of diverse phage populations provided evidence that auxiliary metabolism imparts measurable fitness benefits to phages with ramifications for ecosystem biogeochemistry. Gene abundance and expression profiles of AMGs suggested significant contributions by phages to sulfur and thiosulfate oxidation in freshwater lakes and oceans, and a sensitive response to changing sulfur concentrations in hydrothermal environments. Overall, our study provides fundamental insights on the distribution, diversity, and ecology of phage auxiliary metabolism associated with sulfur and reinforces the necessity of incorporating viral contributions into biogeochemical configurations.
  4. Abstract Background Viruses are a significant player in many biosphere and human ecosystems, but most signals remain “hidden” in metagenomic/metatranscriptomic sequence datasets due to the lack of universal gene markers, database representatives, and insufficiently advanced identification tools. Results Here, we introduce VirSorter2, a DNA and RNA virus identification tool that leverages genome-informed database advances across a collection of customized automatic classifiers to improve the accuracy and range of virus sequence detection. When benchmarked against genomes from both isolated and uncultivated viruses, VirSorter2 uniquely performed consistently with high accuracy (F1-score > 0.8) across viral diversity, while all other tools under-detected viruses outside of the group most represented in reference databases (i.e., those in the order Caudovirales ). Among the tools evaluated, VirSorter2 was also uniquely able to minimize errors associated with atypical cellular sequences including eukaryotic genomes and plasmids. Finally, as the virosphere exploration unravels novel viral sequences, VirSorter2’s modular design makes it inherently able to expand to new types of viruses via the design of new classifiers to maintain maximal sensitivity and specificity. Conclusion With multi-classifier and modular design, VirSorter2 demonstrates higher overall accuracy across major viral groups and will advance our knowledge of virus evolution, diversity, and virus-microbe interaction inmore »various ecosystems. Source code of VirSorter2 is freely available ( https://bitbucket.org/MAVERICLab/virsorter2 ), and VirSorter2 is also available both on bioconda and as an iVirus app on CyVerse ( https://de.cyverse.org/de ).« less
  5. Abstract

    Microbial communities in oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) are known to have significant impacts on global biogeochemical cycles, but viral influence on microbial processes in these regions are much less studied. Here we provide baseline ecological patterns using microscopy and viral metagenomics from the Eastern Tropical North Pacific (ETNP) OMZ region that enhance our understanding of viruses in these climate-critical systems. While extracellular viral abundance decreased below the oxycline, viral diversity and lytic infection frequency remained high within the OMZ, demonstrating that viral influences on microbial communities were still substantial without the detectable presence of oxygen. Viral community composition was strongly related to oxygen concentration, with viral populations in low-oxygen portions of the water column being distinct from their surface layer counterparts. However, this divergence was not accompanied by the expected differences in viral-encoded auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) relating to nitrogen and sulfur metabolisms that are known to be performed by microbial communities in these low-oxygen and anoxic regions. Instead, several abundant AMGs were identified in the oxycline and OMZ that may modulate host responses to low-oxygen stress. We hypothesize that this is due to selection for viral-encoded genes that influence host survivability rather than modulating host metabolic reactions withinmore »the ETNP OMZ. Together, this study shows that viruses are not only diverse throughout the water column in the ETNP, including the OMZ, but their infection of microorganisms has the potential to alter host physiological state within these biogeochemically important regions of the ocean.

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  6. Abstract The marine picoeukaryote Bathycoccus prasinos has been considered a cosmopolitan alga, although recent studies indicate two ecotypes exist, Clade BI ( B. prasinos ) and Clade BII. Viruses that infect Bathycoccus Clade BI are known (BpVs), but not that infect BII. We isolated three dsDNA prasinoviruses from the Sargasso Sea against Clade BII isolate RCC716. The BII-Vs do not infect BI, and two (BII-V2 and BII-V3) have larger genomes (~210 kb) than BI-Viruses and BII-V1. BII-Vs share ~90% of their proteins, and between 65% to 83% of their proteins with sequenced BpVs. Phylogenomic reconstructions and PolB analyses establish close-relatedness of BII-V2 and BII-V3, yet BII-V2 has 10-fold higher infectivity and induces greater mortality on host isolate RCC716. BII-V1 is more distant, has a shorter latent period, and infects both available BII isolates, RCC716 and RCC715, while BII-V2 and BII-V3 do not exhibit productive infection of the latter in our experiments. Global metagenome analyses show Clade BI and BII algal relative abundances correlate positively with their respective viruses. The distributions delineate BI/BpVs as occupying lower temperature mesotrophic and coastal systems, whereas BII/BII-Vs occupy warmer temperature, higher salinity ecosystems. Accordingly, with molecular diagnostic support, we name Clade BII Bathycoccus calidus sp. nov.more »and propose that molecular diversity within this new species likely connects to the differentiated host-virus dynamics observed in our time course experiments. Overall, the tightly linked biogeography of Bathycoccus host and virus clades observed herein supports species-level host specificity, with strain-level variations in infection parameters.« less
  7. Abstract

    Microbes drive myriad ecosystem processes, but under strong influence from viruses. Because studying viruses in complex systems requires different tools than those for microbes, they remain underexplored. To combat this, we previously aggregated double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus analysis capabilities and resources into ‘iVirus’ on the CyVerse collaborative cyberinfrastructure. Here we substantially expand iVirus’s functionality and accessibility, to iVirus 2.0, as follows. First, core iVirus apps were integrated into the Department of Energy’s Systems Biology KnowledgeBase (KBase) to provide an additional analytical platform. Second, at CyVerse, 20 software tools (apps) were upgraded or added as new tools and capabilities. Third, nearly 20-fold more sequence reads were aggregated to capture new data and environments. Finally, documentation, as “live” protocols, was updated to maximize user interaction with and contribution to infrastructure development. Together, iVirus 2.0 serves as a uniquely central and accessible analytical platform for studying how viruses, particularly dsDNA viruses, impact diverse microbial ecosystems.

  8. Oceans are brimming with life invisible to our eyes, a myriad of species of bacteria, viruses and other microscopic organisms essential for the health of the planet. These ‘marine plankton’ are unable to swim against currents and should therefore be constantly on the move, yet previous studies have suggested that distinct species of plankton may in fact inhabit different oceanic regions. However, proving this theory has been challenging; collecting plankton is logistically difficult, and it is often impossible to distinguish between species simply by examining them under a microscope. However, within the last decade, a research schooner called Tara has travelled the globe to gather thousands of plankton samples. At the same time, advances in genomics have made it possible to identify species based only on fragments of their DNA sequence. To understand the hidden geography of plankton communities in Earth’s oceans, Richter et al. pored over DNA from the Tara Oceans expedition. This revealed that, despite being unable to resist the flow of water, various planktonic species which live close to the surface manage to occupy distinct, stable provinces shaped by currents. Different sizes of plankton are distributed in different sized provinces, with the smallest organisms tending to inhabitmore »the smallest areas. Comparing DNA similarities and speeds of currents at the ocean surface revealed how these might stretch and mix plankton communities. Plankton play a critical role in the health of the ocean and the chemical cycles of planet Earth. These results could allow deeper investigation by marine modellers, ecologists, and evolutionary biologists. Meanwhile, work is already underway to investigate how climate change might impact this hidden geography.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 3, 2023
  9. Abstract Temperate phages are viruses of bacteria that can establish two types of infection: a lysogenic infection in which the virus replicates with the host cell without producing virions, and a lytic infection where the host cell is eventually destroyed, and new virions are released. While both lytic and lysogenic infections are routinely observed in the environment, the ecological and evolutionary processes regulating these viral dynamics are still not well understood, especially for uncultivated virus-host pairs. Here, we characterized the long-term dynamics of uncultivated viruses infecting green sulfur bacteria (GSB) in a model freshwater lake (Trout Bog Lake, TBL). As no GSB virus has been formally described yet, we first used two complementary approaches to identify new GSB viruses from TBL; one in vitro based on flow cytometry cell sorting, the other in silico based on CRISPR spacer sequences. We then took advantage of existing TBL metagenomes covering the 2005–2018 period to examine the interactions between GSB and their viruses across years and seasons. From our data, GSB populations in TBL were constantly associated with at least 2-8 viruses each, including both lytic and temperate phages. The dominant GSB population in particular was consistently associated with two prophages with amore »nearly 100% infection rate for >10 years. We illustrate with a theoretical model that such an interaction can be stable given a low, but persistent, level of prophage induction in low-diversity host populations. Overall, our data suggest that lytic and lysogenic viruses can readily co-infect the same host population, and that host strain-level diversity might be an important factor controlling virus-host dynamics including lytic/lysogeny switch.« less