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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. Abstract

    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-likeMyoviridaephages, predicted to infectCyanobacteriaandProteobacteria, or in unclassified archaeal viruses predicted to infectThaumarchaeota. 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.

  3. 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
  4. Abstract Natural microbial communities are phylogenetically and metabolically diverse. In addition to underexplored organismal groups 1 , this diversity encompasses a rich discovery potential for ecologically and biotechnologically relevant enzymes and biochemical compounds 2,3 . However, studying this diversity to identify genomic pathways for the synthesis of such compounds 4 and assigning them to their respective hosts remains challenging. The biosynthetic potential of microorganisms in the open ocean remains largely uncharted owing to limitations in the analysis of genome-resolved data at the global scale. Here we investigated the diversity and novelty of biosynthetic gene clusters in the ocean by integrating around 10,000 microbial genomes from cultivated and single cells with more than 25,000 newly reconstructed draft genomes from more than 1,000 seawater samples. These efforts revealed approximately 40,000 putative mostly new biosynthetic gene clusters, several of which were found in previously unsuspected phylogenetic groups. Among these groups, we identified a lineage rich in biosynthetic gene clusters (‘ Candidatus Eudoremicrobiaceae’) that belongs to an uncultivated bacterial phylum and includes some of the most biosynthetically diverse microorganisms in this environment. From these, we characterized the phospeptin and pythonamide pathways, revealing cases of unusual bioactive compound structure and enzymology, respectively. Together, this researchmore »demonstrates how microbiomics-driven strategies can enable the investigation of previously undescribed enzymes and natural products in underexplored microbial groups and environments.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 7, 2023
  5. Community- and “species”-level analyses elucidate ecological impacts and roles of marine RNA viruses.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 10, 2023
  6. Viruses of two candidate phyla are abundant in the ocean and revise our understanding of early RNA virus evolution.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 8, 2023
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  8. 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 ( ), and VirSorter2 is also available both on bioconda and as an iVirus app on CyVerse ( ).« less
  9. Robinson, Peter (Ed.)
    Abstract Motivation Viruses infect, reprogram, and kill microbes, leading to profound ecosystem consequences, from elemental cycling in oceans and soils to microbiome-modulated diseases in plants and animals. Although metagenomic datasets are increasingly available, identifying viruses in them is challenging due to poor representation and annotation of viral sequences in databases. Results Here we establish efam, an expanded collection of Hidden Markov Model (HMM) profiles that represent viral protein families conservatively identified from the Global Ocean Virome 2.0 dataset. This resulted in 240,311 HMM profiles, each with at least 2 protein sequences, making efam >7-fold larger than the next largest, pan-ecosystem viral HMM profile database. Adjusting the criteria for viral contig confidence from “conservative” to “eXtremely Conservative” resulted in 37,841 HMM profiles in our efam-XC database. To assess the value of this resource, we integrated efam-XC into VirSorter viral discovery software to discover viruses from less-studied, ecologically distinct oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) marine habitats. This expanded database led to an increase in viruses recovered from every tested OMZ virome by ∼24% on average (up to ∼42%) and especially improved the recovery of often-missed shorter contigs (<5 kb). Additionally, to help elucidate lesser-known viral protein functions, we annotated the profiles using multiple databasesmore »from the DRAM pipeline and virion-associated metaproteomic data, which doubled the number of annotations obtainable by standard, single-database annotation approaches. Together, these marine resources (efam and efam-XC) are provided as searchable, compressed HMM databases that will be updated bi-annually to help maximize viral sequence discovery and study from any ecosystem. Availability The resources are available on the iVirus platform at ( Supplementary information Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.« less