Cyanophage infection in the bloom-forming cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa in surface freshwater.
ABSTRACT: Host-like genes are often found in viral genomes. To date, multiple host-like genes involved in photosynthesis and the pentose phosphate pathway have been found in phages of marine cyanobacteria Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus. These gene products are predicted to redirect host metabolism to deoxynucleotide biosynthesis for phage replication while maintaining photosynthesis. A cyanophage, Ma-LMM01, infecting the toxic cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa, was isolated from a eutrophic freshwater lake and assigned as a member of a new lineage of the Myoviridae family. The genome encodes a host-like NblA. Cyanobacterial NblA is known to be involved in the degradation of the major light harvesting complex, the phycobilisomes. Ma-LMM01 nblA gene showed an early expression pattern and was highly transcribed during phage infection. We speculate that the co-option of nblA into Microcystis phages provides a significant fitness advantage to phages by preventing photoinhibition during infection and possibly represents an important part of the co-evolutionary interactions between cyanobacteria and their phages.
Project description:Cyanobacteria and their phages are significant microbial components of the freshwater and marine environments. We identified a lytic phage, Ma-LMM01, infecting Microcystis aeruginosa, a cyanobacterium that forms toxic blooms on the surfaces of freshwater lakes. Here, we describe the first sequenced freshwater cyanomyovirus genome of Ma-LMM01. The linear, circularly permuted, and terminally redundant genome has 162,109 bp and contains 184 predicted protein-coding genes and two tRNA genes. The genome exhibits no colinearity with previously sequenced genomes of cyanomyoviruses or other Myoviridae. The majority of the predicted genes have no detectable homologues in the databases. These findings indicate that Ma-LMM01 is a member of a new lineage of the Myoviridae family. The genome lacks homologues for the photosynthetic genes that are prevalent in marine cyanophages. However, it has a homologue of nblA, which is essential for the degradation of the major cyanobacteria light-harvesting complex, the phycobilisomes. The genome codes for a site-specific recombinase and two prophage antirepressors, suggesting that it has the capacity to integrate into the host genome. Ma-LMM01 possesses six genes, including three coding for transposases, that are highly similar to homologues found in cyanobacteria, suggesting that recent gene transfers have occurred between Ma-LMM01 and its host. We propose that the Ma-LMM01 NblA homologue possibly reduces the absorption of excess light energy and confers benefits to the phage living in surface waters. This phage genome study suggests that light is central in the phage-cyanobacterium relationships where the viruses use diverse genetic strategies to control their host's photosynthesis.
Project description:We isolated a cyanophage (Ma-LMM01) that specifically infects a toxic strain of the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the virion is composed of anisometric head and a tail complex consisting of a central tube and a contractile sheath with helical symmetry. The morphological features and the host specificity suggest that Ma-LMM01 is a member of the cyanomyovirus group. Using semi-one-step growth experiments, the latent period and burst size were estimated to be 6 to 12 h and 50 to 120 infectious units per cell, respectively. The size of the phage genome was estimated to be ca. 160 kbp using pulse-field gel electrophoresis; the nucleic acid was sensitive to DNase I, Bal31, and all 14 restriction enzymes tested, suggesting that it is a linear double-stranded DNA having a low level of methylation. Phylogenetic analyses based on the deduced amino acid sequences of two open reading frames coding for ribonucleotide reductase alpha- and beta-subunits showed that Ma-LMM01 forms a sister group with marine and freshwater cyanobacteria and is apparently distinct from T4-like phages. Phylogenetic analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence of the putative sheath protein showed that Ma-LMM01 does not form a monophyletic group with either the T4-like phages or prophages, suggesting that Ma-LMM01 is distinct from other T4-like phages that have been described despite morphological similarity. The host-phage system which we studied is expected to contribute to our understanding of the ecology of Microcystis blooms and the genetics of cyanophages, and our results suggest the phages could be used to control toxic cyanobacterial blooms.
Project description:Microcystis aeruginosa forms massive blooms in eutrophic freshwaters, where it is constantly exposed to lytic cyanophages. Unlike other marine cyanobacteria, M. aeruginosa possess remarkably abundant and diverse potential antiviral defense genes. Interestingly, T4-like cyanophage Ma-LMM01, which is the sole cultured lytic cyanophage infecting M. aeruginosa, lacks the host-derived genes involved in maintaining host photosynthesis and directing host metabolism that are abundant in other marine cyanophages. Based on genomic comparisons with closely related cyanobacteria and their phages, Ma-LMM01 is predicted to employ a novel infection program that differs from that of other marine cyanophages. Here, we used RNA-seq technology and in silico analysis to examine transcriptional dynamics during Ma-LMM01 infection to reveal host transcriptional responses to phage infection, and to elucidate the infection program used by Ma-LMM01 to avoid the highly abundant host defense systems. Phage-derived reads increased only slightly at 1 h post-infection, but significantly increased from 16% of total cellular reads at 3 h post-infection to 33% of all reads by 6 h post-infection. Strikingly, almost none of the host genes (0.17%) showed a significant change in expression during infection. However, like other lytic dsDNA phages, including marine cyanophages, phage gene dynamics revealed three expression classes: early (host-takeover), middle (replication), and late (virion morphogenesis). The early genes were concentrated in a single ?5.8-kb window spanning 10 open reading frames (gp054-gp063) on the phage genome. None of the early genes showed homology to the early genes of other T4-like phages, including known marine cyanophages. Bacterial RNA polymerase (?70) recognition sequences were also found in the upstream region of middle and late genes, whereas phage-specific motifs were not found. Our findings suggest that unlike other known T4-like phages, Ma-LMM01 achieves three sequential gene expression patterns with no change in host promoter activity. This type of infection that does not cause significant change in host transcriptional levels may be advantageous in allowing Ma-LMM01 to escape host defense systems while maintaining host photosynthesis.
Project description:Viruses play important roles in regulating the abundance, clonal diversity, and composition of their host populations. To assess their impact on the host populations, it is essential to understand the dynamics of virus infections in the natural environment. Cyanophages often carry host-like genes, including photosynthesis genes, which maintain host photosynthesis. This implies a diurnal pattern of cyanophage infection depending on photosynthesis. Here we investigated the infection pattern of Microcystis cyanophage by following the abundances of the Ma-LMM01-type phage tail sheath gene g91 and its transcript in a natural population. The relative g91 mRNA abundance within host cells showed a peak during the daylight hours and was lowest around midnight. The phage g91 DNA copy numbers in host cell fractions, which are predicted to indicate phage replication, increased in the afternoon, followed by an increase in the free-phage fractions. In all fractions, at least 1 of 71 g91 genotypes was observed (in tested host cell, free-phage, and RNA fractions), indicating that the replication cycle of the cyanophage (i.e., injection, transcription, replication, and release of progeny phages) was occurring. Thus, Microcystis cyanophage infection occurs in a diel cycle, which may depend on the light cycle. Additionally, our data show that the abundance of mature cyanophage produced within host cells was 1 to 2 orders of magnitude greater than that of released phages, suggesting that phage production may be higher than previously reported.
Project description:Viruses influence the abundance of host populations through virus-mediated host cell lysis. Viruses contribute to the generation and maintenance of host diversity, which also results in viral diversity throughout their coevolution. Here, to determine the phage gene diversification throughout the coevolution of host and phage in a natural environment, we investigated the genetic diversity and temporal changes in Microcystis cyanophage populations using a total of 810 sequences of the Ma-LMM01-type cyanophage tail sheath gene (g91) from 2006 to 2011 in a natural pond. The sequences obtained were highly diverse and assigned to 419 different genotypes (GT1 to GT419) clustered at 100% nucleotide sequence similarity. A maximum-parsimony network showed that the genotypes were largely divided into three sequence groups, which were dominated by major genotypes (more than 24 sequences: GT2, GT53, and GT163 in group I; GT25 in group II; and GT1 in group III). These major genotypes coexisted and oscillated throughout the sampling periods, suggesting that the Microcystis-cyanophage coevolution was partly driven by a negative frequency-dependent selection. Meanwhile, the high viral genetic diversity observed was derived from a large number of the variants of each major and moderately frequent genotype (including 7 to 18 sequences: GT7, GT26, GT56, GT149, and GT182 in group I; GT152 in group II) (1 or 2 nucleotide substitutions). The variants almost always co-occurred with their origin genotypes. This manner of variant emergence suggests that increased contact frequency within a host-phage population promotes rapid coevolution in a form of "arms race."
Project description:Viruses play important roles in regulating the abundance and composition of bacterial populations in aquatic ecosystems. The bloom-forming toxic cyanobacterium <i>Microcystis aeruginosa</i> is predicted to interact with diverse cyanoviruses, resulting in <i>Microcystis</i> population diversification. However, current knowledge of the genomes from these viruses and their infection programs is limited to those of <i>Microcystis</i> virus Ma-LMM01. Here, we performed a time series sampling at a small pond in Japan during a <i>Microcystis</i> bloom and then investigated the genomic information and transcriptional dynamics of <i>Microcystis</i>-interacting viruses using metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. We identified 15 viral genomic fragments classified into three groups, groups I (including Ma-LMM01), II (high abundance and transcriptional activity), and III (new lineages). According to the phylogenetic distribution of <i>Microcystis</i> strains possessing spacers against each viral group, the group II-original viruses interacted with all three phylogenetically distinct <i>Microcystis</i> population types (phylotypes), whereas the groups I and III-original viruses interacted with only one or two phylotypes, indicating the cooccurrence of broad- (group II) and narrow (groups I and III)-host-range viruses in the bloom. These viral fragments showed the highest transcriptional levels during daytime regardless of their genomic differences. Interestingly, <i>M. aeruginosa</i> expressed antiviral defense genes in the environment, unlike what was seen with an Ma-LMM01 infection in a previous culture experiment. Given that broad-host-range viruses often induce antiviral responses within alternative hosts, our findings suggest that such antiviral responses might inhibit viral multiplication, mainly that of broad-host-range viruses like those in group II.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> The bloom-forming toxic cyanobacterium <i>Microcystis aeruginosa</i> is thought to have diversified its population through the interactions between host and viruses in antiviral defense systems. However, current knowledge of viral genomes and infection programs is limited to those of <i>Microcystis</i> virus Ma-LMM01, which was a narrow host range in which it can escape from the highly abundant host defense systems. Our metagenomic approaches unveiled the cooccurrence of narrow- and broad-host-range <i>Microcystis</i> viruses, which included fifteen viral genomic fragments from <i>Microcystis</i> blooms that were classified into three groups. Interestingly, <i>Microcystis</i> antiviral defense genes were expressed against viral infection in the environment, unlike what was seen in a culture experiment with Ma-LMM01. Given that viruses with a broad host range often induce antiviral responses within alternative hosts, our findings suggest that antiviral responses inhibit viral reproduction, especially that of broad-range viruses like those in group II. This paper augments our understanding of the interactions between <i>M. aeruginosa</i> and its viruses and fills an important knowledge gap.
Project description:A cyanophage, PaV-LD, has been isolated from harmful filamentous cyanobacterium Planktothrix agardhii in Lake Donghu, a shallow freshwater lake in China. Here, we present the cyanophage's genomic organization and major structural proteins. The genome is a 95,299-bp-long, linear double-stranded DNA and contains 142 potential genes. BLAST searches revealed 29 proteins of known function in cyanophages, cyanobacteria, or bacteria. Thirteen major structural proteins ranging in size from 27 kDa to 172 kDa were identified by SDS-PAGE and mass-spectrometric analysis. The genome lacks major genes that are necessary to the tail structure, and the tailless PaV-LD has been confirmed by an electron microscopy comparison with other tail cyanophages and phages. Phylogenetic analysis of the major capsid proteins also reveals an independent branch of PaV-LD that is quite different from other known tail cyanophages and phages. Moreover, the unique genome carries a nonbleaching protein A (NblA) gene (open reading frame [ORF] 022L), which is present in all phycobilisome-containing organisms and mediates phycobilisome degradation. Western blot detection confirmed that 022L was expressed after PaV-LD infection in the host filamentous cyanobacterium. In addition, its appearance was companied by a significant decline of phycocyanobilin content and a color change of the cyanobacterial cells from blue-green to yellow-green. The biological function of PaV-LD nblA was further confirmed by expression in a model cyanobacterium via an integration platform, by spectroscopic analysis and electron microscopy observation. The data indicate that PaV-LD is an exceptional cyanophage of filamentous cyanobacteria, and this novel cyanophage will also provide us with a new vision of the cyanophage-host interactions.
Project description:The oceanic cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus are globally important, ecologically diverse primary producers. It is thought that their viruses (phages) mediate population sizes and affect the evolutionary trajectories of their hosts. Here we present an analysis of genomes from three Prochlorococcus phages: a podovirus and two myoviruses. The morphology, overall genome features, and gene content of these phages suggest that they are quite similar to T7-like (P-SSP7) and T4-like (P-SSM2 and P-SSM4) phages. Using the existing phage taxonomic framework as a guideline, we examined genome sequences to establish "core" genes for each phage group. We found the podovirus contained 15 of 26 core T7-like genes and the two myoviruses contained 43 and 42 of 75 core T4-like genes. In addition to these core genes, each genome contains a significant number of "cyanobacterial" genes, i.e., genes with significant best BLAST hits to genes found in cyanobacteria. Some of these, we speculate, represent "signature" cyanophage genes. For example, all three phage genomes contain photosynthetic genes (psbA, hliP) that are thought to help maintain host photosynthetic activity during infection, as well as an aldolase family gene (talC) that could facilitate alternative routes of carbon metabolism during infection. The podovirus genome also contains an integrase gene (int) and other features that suggest it is capable of integrating into its host. If indeed it is, this would be unprecedented among cultured T7-like phages or marine cyanophages and would have significant evolutionary and ecological implications for phage and host. Further, both myoviruses contain phosphate-inducible genes (phoH and pstS) that are likely to be important for phage and host responses to phosphate stress, a commonly limiting nutrient in marine systems. Thus, these marine cyanophages appear to be variations of two well-known phages-T7 and T4-but contain genes that, if functional, reflect adaptations for infection of photosynthetic hosts in low-nutrient oceanic environments.
Project description:Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) confer sequence-dependent, adaptive resistance in prokaryotes against viruses and plasmids via incorporation of short sequences, called spacers, derived from foreign genetic elements. CRISPR loci are thus considered to provide records of past infections. To describe the host-parasite (i.e., cyanophages and plasmids) interactions involving the bloom-forming freshwater cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa, we investigated CRISPR in four M. aeruginosa strains and in two previously sequenced genomes. The number of spacers in each locus was larger than the average among prokaryotes. All spacers were strain specific, except for a string of 11 spacers shared in two closely related strains, suggesting diversification of the loci. Using CRISPR repeat-based PCR, 24 CRISPR genotypes were identified in a natural cyanobacterial community. Among 995 unique spacers obtained, only 10 sequences showed similarity to M. aeruginosa phage Ma-LMM01. Of these, six spacers showed only silent or conservative nucleotide mutations compared to Ma-LMM01 sequences, suggesting a strategy by the cyanophage to avert CRISPR immunity dependent on nucleotide identity. These results imply that host-phage interactions can be divided into M. aeruginosa-cyanophage combinations rather than pandemics of population-wide infectious cyanophages. Spacer similarity also showed frequent exposure of M. aeruginosa to small cryptic plasmids that were observed only in a few strains. Thus, the diversification of CRISPR implies that M. aeruginosa has been challenged by diverse communities (almost entirely uncharacterized) of cyanophages and plasmids.
Project description:Marine viruses are an important component of the microbial food web, influencing microbial diversity and contributing to bacterial mortality rates. Resistance to cooccurring cyanophages has been reported for natural communities of Synechococcus spp.; however, little is known about the nature of this resistance. This study examined the patterns of infectivity among cyanophage isolates and unicellular marine cyanobacteria (Synechococcus spp.). We selected for phage-resistant Synechococcus mutants, examined the mechanisms of phage resistance, and determined the extent of cross-resistance to other phages. Four strains of Synechococcus spp. (WH7803, WH8018, WH8012, and WH8101) and 32 previously isolated cyanomyophages were used to select for phage resistance. Phage-resistant Synechococcus mutants were recovered from 50 of the 101 susceptible phage-host pairs, and 23 of these strains were further characterized. Adsorption kinetic assays indicate that resistance is likely due to changes in host receptor sites that limit viral attachment. Our results also suggest that receptor mutations conferring this resistance are diverse. Nevertheless, selection for resistance to one phage frequently resulted in cross-resistance to other phages. On average, phage-resistant Synechococcus strains became resistant to eight other cyanophages; however, there was no significant correlation between the genetic similarity of the phages (based on g20 sequences) and cross-resistance. Likewise, host Synechococcus DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (rpoC1) genotypes could not be used to predict sensitivities to phages. The potential for the rapid evolution of multiple phage resistance may influence the population dynamics and diversity of both Synechococcus and cyanophages in marine waters.