Isolation and phylogenetic analysis of novel viruses infecting the phytoplankton Phaeocystis globosa (Prymnesiophyceae).
ABSTRACT: Viruses infecting the harmful bloom-causing alga Phaeocystis globosa (Prymnesiophyceae) were readily isolated from Dutch coastal waters (southern North Sea) in 2000 and 2001. Our data show a large increase in the abundance of putative P. globosa viruses during blooms of P. globosa, suggesting that viruses are an important source of mortality for this alga. In order to examine genetic relatedness among viruses infecting P. globosa and other phytoplankton, DNA polymerase gene (pol) fragments were amplified and the inferred amino acid sequences were phylogenetically analyzed. The results demonstrated that viruses infecting P. globosa formed a closely related monophyletic group within the family Phycodnaviridae, with at least 96.9% similarity to each other. The sequences grouped most closely with others from viruses that infect the prymnesiophyte algae Chrysochromulina brevifilum and Chrysochromulina strobilus. Whether the P. globosa viruses belong to the genus Prymnesiovirus or form a separate group needs further study. Our data suggest that, like their phytoplankton hosts, the Chrysochromulina and Phaeocystis viruses share a common ancestor and that these prymnesioviruses and their algal host have coevolved.
Project description:We report the complete genome sequence of CeV-01B, a large double-stranded DNA virus infecting the unicellular marine phytoplankton Haptolina (formerly Chrysochromulina) ericina. CeV-01B and its closest relative Phaeocystis globosa virus define an emerging subclade of the Megaviridae family with smaller genomes and particles than the originally described giant Mimiviridae infecting Acanthamoeba.
Project description:Large dsDNA viruses are involved in the population control of many globally distributed species of eukaryotic phytoplankton and have a prominent role in bloom termination. The genus Phaeocystis (Haptophyta, Prymnesiophyceae) includes several high-biomass-forming phytoplankton species, such as Phaeocystis globosa, the blooms of which occur mostly in the coastal zone of the North Atlantic and the North Sea. Here, we report the 459,984-bp-long genome sequence of P. globosa virus strain PgV-16T, encoding 434 proteins and eight tRNAs and, thus, the largest fully sequenced genome to date among viruses infecting algae. Surprisingly, PgV-16T exhibits no phylogenetic affinity with other viruses infecting microalgae (e.g., phycodnaviruses), including those infecting Emiliania huxleyi, another ubiquitous bloom-forming haptophyte. Rather, PgV-16T belongs to an emerging clade (the Megaviridae) clustering the viruses endowed with the largest known genomes, including Megavirus, Mimivirus (both infecting acanthamoeba), and a virus infecting the marine microflagellate grazer Cafeteria roenbergensis. Seventy-five percent of the best matches of PgV-16T-predicted proteins correspond to two viruses [Organic Lake phycodnavirus (OLPV)1 and OLPV2] from a hypersaline lake in Antarctica (Organic Lake), the hosts of which are unknown. As for OLPVs and other Megaviridae, the PgV-16T sequence data revealed the presence of a virophage-like genome. However, no virophage particle was detected in infected P. globosa cultures. The presence of many genes found only in Megaviridae in its genome and the presence of an associated virophage strongly suggest that PgV-16T shares a common ancestry with the largest known dsDNA viruses, the host range of which already encompasses the earliest diverging branches of domain Eukarya.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus is the largest known ds-DNA virus and its 1.2 Mb-genome sequence has revealed many unique features. Mimivirus occupies an independent lineage among eukaryotic viruses and its known hosts include only species from the Acanthamoeba genus. The existence of mimivirus relatives was first suggested by the analysis of the Sargasso Sea metagenomic data. RESULTS: We now further demonstrate the presence of numerous "mimivirus-like" sequences using a larger marine metagenomic data set. We also show that the DNA polymerase sequences from three algal viruses (CeV01, PpV01, PoV01) infecting different marine algal species (Chrysochromulina ericina, Phaeocystis pouchetii, Pyramimonas orientalis) are very closely related to their homolog in mimivirus. CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the numerous mimivirus-related sequences identified in marine environments are likely to originate from diverse large DNA viruses infecting phytoplankton. Micro-algae thus constitute a new category of potential hosts in which to look for new species of Mimiviridae.
Project description:Colony enlargement in Phaeocystis globosa has been considered as an induced defense strategy that reduces its susceptibility to grazers, but allocation costs inflicted by this plastic morphological defense are poorly understood. We conducted experiments in which P. globosa cultures were exposed to chemical cues from copepods, ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates, respectively, under nutrient sufficient and deficient conditions to evaluate allocation costs associated with induced defense. Phaeocystis globosa responded to chemical cues from grazers by increasing colony diameter irrespective of nutrient conditions. We did not find trade-offs between induced defense and growth rate under nutrient sufficient conditions. Instead, induced defensive P. globosa had higher growth rates than non-induced P. globosa. When nutrient became limited, P. globosa exposed to grazing cues from copepods and dinoflagellates had significantly decreased growth rates when compared with non-induced P. globosa. We suggested that the decreased growth revealed allocation costs associated with induced defense that may influence on the trophic interactions between Phaeocystis and consumers.
Project description:Algal viruses are considered ecologically important by affecting host population dynamics and nutrient flow in aquatic food webs. Members of the family Phycodnaviridae are also interesting due to their extraordinary genome size. Few algal viruses in the Phycodnaviridae family have been sequenced, and those that have been have few genes in common and low gene homology. It has hence been difficult to design general PCR primers that allow further studies of their ecology and diversity. In this study, we screened the nine type I core genes of the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses for sequences suitable for designing a general set of primers. Sequence comparison between members of the Phycodnaviridae family, including three partly sequenced viruses infecting the prymnesiophyte Pyramimonas orientalis and the haptophytes Phaeocystis pouchetii and Chrysochromulina ericina (Pyramimonas orientalis virus 01B [PoV-01B], Phaeocystis pouchetii virus 01 [PpV-01], and Chrysochromulina ericina virus 01B [CeV-01B], respectively), revealed eight conserved regions in the major capsid protein (MCP). Two of these regions also showed conservation at the nucleotide level, and this allowed us to design degenerate PCR primers. The primers produced 347- to 518-bp amplicons when applied to lysates from algal viruses kept in culture and from natural viral communities. The aim of this work was to use the MCP as a proxy to infer phylogenetic relationships and genetic diversity among members of the Phycodnaviridae family and to determine the occurrence and diversity of this gene in natural viral communities. The results support the current legitimate genera in the Phycodnaviridae based on alga host species. However, while placing the mimivirus in close proximity to the type species, PBCV-1, of Phycodnaviridae along with the three new viruses assigned to the family (PoV-01B, PpV-01, and CeV-01B), the results also indicate that the coccolithoviruses and phaeoviruses are more diverged from this group. Phylogenetic analysis of amplicons from virus assemblages from Norwegian coastal waters as well as from isolated algal viruses revealed a cluster of viruses infecting members of the prymnesiophyte and prasinophyte alga divisions. Other distinct clusters were also identified, containing amplicons from this study as well as sequences retrieved from the Sargasso Sea metagenome. This shows that closely related sequences of this family are present at geographically distant locations within the marine environment.
Project description:The colony-forming haptophyte Phaeocystis antarctica is an important primary producer in the Ross Sea, and must survive long periods of darkness and freezing temperature in this extreme environment. We conducted experiments on the responses of P. antarctica-dominated phytoplankton assemblages to prolonged periods of darkness and freezing. Chlorophyll and photosynthetic capacity of the alga declined nonlinearly and independently of each other in the dark, and darkness alone would potentially reduce photosynthetic capacity by only 60 per cent over 150 days (approximately the length of the Antarctic winter in the southern Ross Sea). The estimated reduction of colonial mucous carbon is higher than that of colonial cell carbon, suggesting metabolism of the colonial matrix in the dark. The alga quickly resumed growth upon return to light. Phaeocystis antarctica also survived freezing, although longer freezing durations lengthened the lag before growth resumption. Particulate dimethylsulfoniopropionate relative to chlorophyll increased upon freezing and decreased upon darkness. Taken together, the abilities of P. antarctica to survive freezing and initiate growth quickly after darkness may provide it with the capability to survive in both the ice and the water column, and help explain its repeated dominance in austral spring blooms in the Ross Sea and elsewhere in the Southern Ocean.
Project description:Braarudosphaera bigelowii (Prymnesiophyceae) is a coastal coccolithophore with a long fossil record, extending back to the late Cretaceous (ca. 100 Ma). A recent study revealed close phylogenetic relationships between B. bigelowii, Chrysochromulina parkeae (Prymnesiophyceae), and a prymnesiophyte that forms a symbiotic association with the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium UCYN-A. In order to further examine these relationships, we conducted transmission electron microscopic and molecular phylogenetic studies of B. bigelowii. TEM studies showed that, in addition to organelles, such as the nucleus, chloroplasts and mitochondria, B. bigelowii contains one or two spheroid bodies with internal lamellae. In the 18S rDNA tree of the Prymnesiophyceae, C. parkeae fell within the B. bigelowii clade, and was close to B. bigelowii Genotype III (99.89% similarity). Plastid 16S rDNA sequences obtained from B. bigelowii were close to the unidentified sequences from the oligotrophic SE Pacific Ocean (e.g. HM133411) (99.86% similarity). Bacterial16S rDNA sequences obtained from B. bigelowii were identical to the UCYN-A sequence AY621693 from Arabian Sea, and fell in the UCYN-A clade. From these results, we suggest that; 1) C. parkeae is the alternate life cycle stage of B. bigelowii sensu stricto or that of a sibling species of B. bigelowii, and 2) the spheroid body of B. bigelowii originated from endosymbiosis of the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium UCYN-A.
Project description:Viruses with large genomes encode numerous proteins that do not directly participate in virus biogenesis but rather modify key functional systems of infected cells. We report that a distinct group of giant viruses infecting unicellular eukaryotes that includes Organic Lake Phycodnaviruses and Phaeocystis globosa virus encode predicted proteorhodopsins that have not been previously detected in viruses. Search of metagenomic sequence data shows that putative viral proteorhodopsins are extremely abundant in marine environments. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that giant viruses acquired proteorhodopsins via horizontal gene transfer from proteorhodopsin-encoding protists although the actual donor(s) could not be presently identified. The pattern of conservation of the predicted functionally important amino acid residues suggests that viral proteorhodopsin homologs function as sensory rhodopsins. We hypothesize that viral rhodopsins modulate light-dependent signaling, in particular phototaxis, in infected protists.
Project description:Viruses influence the ecology and diversity of phytoplankton in the ocean. Most studies of phytoplankton host-virus interactions have focused on bloom-forming species like Emiliania huxleyi or Phaeocystis spp. The role of viruses infecting phytoplankton that do not form conspicuous blooms have received less attention. Here we explore the dynamics of phytoplankton and algal viruses over several sequential seasons, with a focus on the ubiquitous and diverse phytoplankton division Haptophyta, and their double-stranded DNA viruses, potentially with the capacity to infect the haptophytes. Viral and phytoplankton abundance and diversity showed recurrent seasonal changes, mainly explained by hydrographic conditions. By 454 tag-sequencing we revealed 93 unique haptophyte operational taxonomic units (OTUs), with seasonal changes in abundance. Sixty-one unique viral OTUs, representing Megaviridae and Phycodnaviridae, showed only distant relationship with currently isolated algal viruses. Haptophyte and virus community composition and diversity varied substantially throughout the year, but in an uncoordinated manner. A minority of the viral OTUs were highly abundant at specific time-points, indicating a boom-bust relationship with their host. Most of the viral OTUs were very persistent, which may represent viruses that coexist with their hosts, or able to exploit several host species.
Project description:The viral nature of the first "giant virus," Mimivirus, was realized in 2003, 10 y after its initial isolation from the water of a cooling tower in Bradford, UK. Soon after its genome was sequenced, the mining of the Global Ocean Sampling environmental sequence database revealed that the closest relatives of Mimivirus, only known to infect Acanthamoeba, were to be found in the sea. These predicted marine Mimivirus relatives remained elusive until 2010, with the first genomic characterization of a virus infecting a heterotrophic unicellular eukaryote, the microflagellate grazer Cafeteria roenbergensis. The genome analysis of a virus (PgV) infecting the common unicellular algae Phaeocystis globosa now shows that it is a bona fide member of the Mimivirus family (i.e., the Megaviridae), extending the realm of these giant viruses to abundant blooming phytoplankton species. Despite its smaller genome size (460 kb encoding 434 proteins), PgV exhibits the most intriguing feature of the previously characterized Megaviridae: an associated virophage. However, the 19-kb virophage genome, devoid of a capsid gene, is packaged in the PgV particle and propagated as a "viral plasmid," the first ever described. The PgV genome also exhibits the duplication of "core genes," normally present as single copies and a putative new type of mobile element. In a DNA polymerase phylogeny including representatives of the three cellular domains, PgV and the other Megaviridae cluster into their own clade deeply branching between domains Archaea and Eukarya domains, thus exhibiting the topology of a fourth domain in the Tree of Life.