Phylogenetic Diversity of T4-Type Phages in Sediments from the Subtropical Pearl River Estuary.
ABSTRACT: Viruses are an abundant and active component of marine sediments and play a significant role in microbial ecology and biogeochemical cycling at local and global scales. To obtain a better understanding of the ecological characteristics of the viriobenthos, the abundance and morphology of viruses and the diversity and community structure of T4-type phages were systematically investigated in the surface sediments of the subtropical Pearl River Estuary (PRE). Viral abundances ranged from 4.49 × 108 to 11.7 × 108 viruses/g and prokaryotic abundances ranged from 2.63 × 108 to 9.55 × 108 cells/g, and both decreased from freshwater to saltwater. Diverse viral morphotypes, including tailed, spherical, filamentous, and rod-shaped viruses, were observed using transmission electron microscopy. Analysis of the major capsid gene (g23) indicated that the sediment T4-type phages were highly diverse and, similar to the trend in viral abundances, their diversity decreased as the salinity increased. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that most of the g23 operational taxonomic units were affiliated with marine, paddy soil, and lake groups. The T4-type phage communities in freshwater and saltwater sediments showed obvious differences, which were related to changes in the Pearl River discharge. The results of this study demonstrated both allochthonous and autochthonous sources of the viral community in the PRE sediments and the movement of certain T4-type viral groups between the freshwater and saline water biomes.
Project description:The significance of salinity in shaping bacterial communities dwelling in estuarine areas has been well documented. However, the influences of other environmental factors such as dissolved oxygen and nutrients in determining distribution patterns of both individual taxa and bacterial communities inhabited local estuarine regions remain elusive. Here, bacterioplankton community structures of surface and bottom waters from eight sites along the Pearl Estuary were characterized with 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing. The results showed significant differences of bacterioplankton community between freshwater and saltwater sites, and further between surface and bottom waters of saltwater sites. Synechococcus dominated the surface water of saltwater sites while Oceanospirillales, SAR11 and SAR406 were prevalent in the bottom water. Betaproteobacteria was abundant in freshwater sites, with no significant difference between water layers. Occurrence of phylogenetic shifts in taxa affiliated to the same clade was also detected. Dissolved oxygen explained most of the bacterial community variation in the redundancy analysis targeting only freshwater sites, whereas nutrients and salinity explained most of the variation across all samples in the Pearl Estuary. Methylophilales (mainly PE2 clade) was positively correlated to dissolved oxygen, whereas Rhodocyclales (mainly R.12up clade) was negatively correlated. Moreover, high nutrient inputs to the freshwater area of the Pearl Estuary have shifted the bacterial communities toward copiotrophic groups, such as Sphingomonadales. The present study demonstrated that the overall nutrients and freshwater hypoxia play important roles in determining bacterioplankton compositions and provided insights into the potential ecological roles of specific taxa in estuarine environments.
Project description:In recent decades, increasing frequency and intensity of saltwater intrusion in the Modaomen Channel has threatened the freshwater supply in the surrounding cities of the Pearl River Estuary, and ulteriorly changed the environmental conditions of the estuarine waters. Phytoplankton biomass, primary production (PP) and species composition, as well as hydrological and chemical parameters were examined along a downstream transect in the Modaomen Channel during neap tide (NT) and spring tide (ST), when a strong saltwater intrusion event occurred in late September, 2011. A total of 46 species phytoplankton were identified, including Bacillariophyta (25 species), Dinoflagellate (14 species), Chlorophyta (4 species), Cyanophyta (2 species) and Euglenozoa (1 species). The dominant species were shifted from freshwater diatoms (e.g., Melosira granulata and Melosira granulata var. angustissima) in the upper reaches to saline water diatoms (e.g., Skeletonema costatum and Coscinodiscus sp.) in the river mouth. Generally, phytoplankton density, biomass (chl-a) and PP decreased from the upper to lower reaches along the channel, and were significantly higher in NT than those of ST. There was a shift from large-sized phytoplankton (>20 ?m) in the upper reaches to relative small-sized cells (5-20 ?m) in the lower reaches. Compared to NT, low discharge and flow velocity, coupled with strong easterly winds during ST specially aggravated saltwater intrusion further to the upstream (~50 km from the estuary). The intruded saltwater diluted nutrients, N/P ratios, chl-a, and phytoplankton abundances, and thereby led to a decline in PP during ST.
Project description:The temporal community dynamics and persistence of different viral types in the marine environment are still mostly obscure. Polymorphism of the major capsid protein gene, g23, was used to investigate the community composition dynamics of T4-like myoviruses in a North Atlantic fjord for a period of 2 years. A total of 160 unique operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) of the gene g23. Three major community profiles were identified (winter-spring, summer, and autumn), which resulted in a clear seasonal succession pattern. These seasonal transitions were recurrent over the 2 years and significantly correlated with progression of seawater temperature, Synechococcus abundance, and turbidity. The appearance of the autumn viral communities was concomitant with the occurrence of prominent Synechococcus blooms. As a whole, we found a highly dynamic T4-like viral community with strong seasonality and recurrence patterns. These communities were unexpectedly dominated by a group of persistently abundant viruses.
Project description:Viral production estimates show that virioplankton communities turn over rapidly in aquatic ecosystems. Thus, it is likely that the genetic identity of viral populations comprising the virioplankton also change over temporal and spatial scales, reflecting shifts in viral-host interactions. However, there are few approaches that can provide data on the genotypic identity of viral populations at low cost and with the sample throughput necessary to assess dynamic changes in the virioplankton. This study examined two of these approaches-T4-like major capsid protein (g23) gene polymorphism and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA-PCR (RAPD-PCR) fingerprinting-to ask how well each technique could track differences in virioplankton populations over time and geographic location. Seasonal changes in overall virioplankton composition were apparent from pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis. T4-like phages containing similar g23 proteins were found within both small- and large-genome populations, including populations from different geographic locations and times. The surprising occurrence of T4-like g23 within small genomic groups (23 to 64 kb) indicated that the genome size range of T4-like phages may be broader than previously believed. In contrast, RAPD-PCR fingerprinting detected high genotypic similarity within PFGE bands from the same location, time, and genome size class without the requirement for DNA sequencing. Unlike g23 polymorphism, RAPD-PCR fingerprints showed a greater temporal than geographic variation. Thus, while polymorphism in a viral signature gene, such as g23, can be a powerful tool for inferring evolutionary relationships, the degree to which this approach can capture fine-scale variability within virioplankton populations is less clear.
Project description:The Arctic marine environment experiences dramatic seasonal changes in light and nutrient availability. To investigate the influence of seasonality on Arctic marine virus communities, five research cruises to the west and north of Svalbard were conducted across one calendar year, collecting water from the surface to 1000 m in depth. We employed metabarcoding analysis of major capsid protein g23 and mcp genes in order to investigate T4-like myoviruses and large dsDNA viruses infecting prokaryotic and eukaryotic picophytoplankton, respectively. Microbial abundances were assessed using flow cytometry. Metabarcoding results demonstrated that seasonality was the key mediator shaping virus communities, whereas depth exerted a diversifying effect within seasonal virus assemblages. Viral diversity and virus-to-prokaryote ratios (VPRs) dropped sharply at the commencement of the spring bloom but increased across the season, ultimately achieving the highest levels during the winter season. These findings suggest that viral lysis may be an important process during the polar winter, when productivity is low. Furthermore, winter viral communities consisted of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) distinct from those present during the spring-summer season. Our data provided a first insight into the diversity of viruses in a hitherto undescribed marine habitat characterized by extremes in light and productivity.
Project description:Morphological diversity, abundance and community structure of viruses were examined in the deep and anoxic sediments of the volcanic Lake Pavin (France). The sediment core, encompassing 130 years of sedimentation, was subsampled every centimeter. High viral abundances were recorded and correlated to prokaryotic densities. Abundances of viruses and prokaryotes decreased with the depth, contrasting the pattern of virus-to-prokaryote ratio. According to fingerprint analyses, the community structure of viruses, bacteria and archaea gradually changed, and communities of the surface (0-10?cm) could be discriminated from those of the intermediate (11-27?cm) and deep (28-40?cm) sediment layers. Viral morphotypes similar to virions of ubiquitous dsDNA viruses of bacteria were observed. Exceptional morphotypes, previously never reported in freshwater systems, were also detected. Some of these resembled dsDNA viruses of hyperthermophilic and hyperhalophilic archaea. Moreover, unusual types of spherical and cubic virus-like particles (VLPs) were observed. Infected prokaryotic cells were detected in the whole sediment core, and their vertical distribution correlated with both viral and prokaryotic abundances. Pleomorphic ellipsoid VLPs were visible in filamentous cells tentatively identified as representatives of the archaeal genus Methanosaeta, a major group of methane producers on earth.
Project description:Viral metagenomics (viromics) is a tremendous tool to reveal viral taxonomic and functional diversity across ecosystems ranging from the human gut to the world's oceans. As with microbes however, there appear vast swaths of "dark matter" yet to be documented for viruses, even among relatively well-studied viral types. Here, we use viromics to explore the "Far-T4 phages" sequence space, a neighbor clade from the well-studied T4-like phages that was first detected through PCR study in seawater and subsequently identified in freshwater lakes through 454-sequenced viromes. To advance the description of these viruses beyond this single marker gene, we explore Far-T4 genome fragments assembled from two deeply-sequenced freshwater viromes. Single gene phylogenetic trees confirm that the Far-T4 phages are divergent from the T4-like phages, genome fragments reveal largely collinear genome organizations, and both data led to the delineation of five Far-T4 clades. Three-dimensional models of major capsid proteins are consistent with a T4-like structure, and highlight a highly conserved core flanked by variable insertions. Finally, we contextualize these now better characterized Far-T4 phages by re-analyzing 196 previously published viromes. These suggest that Far-T4 are common in freshwater and seawater as only four of 82 aquatic viromes lacked Far-T4-like sequences. Variability in representation across the five newly identified clades suggests clade-specific niche differentiation may be occurring across the different biomes, though the underlying mechanism remains unidentified. While complete genome assembly from complex communities and the lack of host linkage information still bottleneck virus discovery through viromes, these findings exemplify the power of metagenomics approaches to assess the diversity, evolutionary history, and genomic characteristics of novel uncultivated phages.
Project description:Characterizing ecological relationships between viruses, bacteria and protists in the ocean are critical to understanding ecosystem function, yet these relationships are infrequently investigated together. We evaluated these relationships through microbial association network analysis of samples collected approximately monthly from March 2008 to January 2011 in the surface ocean (0-5 m) at the San Pedro Ocean Time series station. Bacterial, T4-like myoviral and protistan communities were described by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism of the gene encoding the major capsid protein (g23) and 18S ribosomal DNA, respectively. Concurrent shifts in community structure suggested similar timing of responses to environmental and biological parameters. We linked T4-like myoviral, bacterial and protistan operational taxonomic units by local similarity correlations, which were then visualized as association networks. Network links (correlations) potentially represent synergistic and antagonistic relationships such as viral lysis, grazing, competition or other interactions. We found that virus-bacteria relationships were more cross-linked than protist-bacteria relationships, suggestive of increased taxonomic specificity in virus-bacteria relationships. We also found that 80% of bacterial-protist and 74% of bacterial-viral correlations were positive, with the latter suggesting that at monthly and seasonal timescales, viruses may be following their hosts more often than controlling host abundance.
Project description:Aquifers, which are essential underground freshwater reservoirs worldwide, are understudied ecosystems that harbor diverse forms of microbial life. This study investigated the abundance and composition of prokaryotic and viral communities in the outflow of five springs across northern Florida, USA, as a proxy of microbial communities found in one of the most productive aquifers in the world, the Floridan aquifer. The average abundances of virus-like particles and prokaryotic cells were slightly lower than those reported from other groundwater systems, ranging from 9.6?×?103 ml-1 to 1.1?×?105 ml-1 and 2.2?×?103 ml-1 to 3.4?×?104 ml-1, respectively. Despite all of the springs being fed by the Floridan aquifer, sequencing of 16S rRNA genes and viral metagenomes (viromes) revealed unique communities in each spring, suggesting that groundwater microbial communities are influenced by land usage in recharge zones. The prokaryotic communities were dominated by Bacteria, and though the most abundant phyla (Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, and Bacteroidetes) were found in relatively high abundance across springs, variation was seen at finer taxonomic resolution. The viral sequences were most similar to those described from other aquatic environments. Sequencing resulted in the completion of 58 novel viral genomes representing members of the order Caudovirales as well as prokaryotic and eukaryotic single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses. Sequences similar to those of ssDNA viruses were detected at all spring sites and dominated the identifiable sequences at one spring site, showing that these small viruses merit further investigation in groundwater systems.IMPORTANCE Aquifer systems may hold up to 40% of the total microbial biomass on Earth. However, little is known about the composition of microbial communities within these critical freshwater ecosystems. Here, we took advantage of Florida's first-magnitude springs (the highest spring classification based on water discharge), each discharging at least 246 million liters of water each day from the Floridan aquifer system (FAS), to investigate prokaryotic and viral communities from the aquifer. The FAS serves as a major source of potable water in the Southeastern United States, providing water for large cities and citizens in three states. Unfortunately, the health of the FAS and its associated springs has declined in the past few decades due to nutrient loading, increased urbanization and agricultural activity in aquifer recharge zones, and saltwater intrusion. This is the first study to describe the prokaryotic and viral communities in Florida's first-magnitude springs, providing a baseline against which to compare future ecosystem change.
Project description:Storm events impact freshwater microbial communities by transporting terrestrial viruses and other microbes to freshwater systems, and by potentially resuspending microbes from bottom sediments. The magnitude of these impacts on freshwater ecosystems is unknown and largely unexplored. Field studies carried out at two discrete sites in coastal Virginia (USA) were used to characterize the viral load carried by runoff and to test the hypothesis that terrestrial viruses introduced through stormwater runoff change the composition of freshwater microbial communities. Field data gathered from an agricultural watershed indicated that primary runoff can contain viral densities approximating those of receiving waters. Furthermore, viruses attached to suspended colloids made up a large fraction of the total load, particularly in early stages of the storm. At a second field site (stormwater retention pond), RAPD-PCR profiling showed that the viral community of the pond changed dramatically over the course of two intense storms while relatively little change was observed over similar time scales in the absence of disturbance. Comparisons of planktonic and particle-associated viral communities revealed two completely distinct communities, suggesting that particle-associated viruses represent a potentially large and overlooked portion of aquatic viral abundance and diversity. Our findings show that stormwater runoff can quickly change the composition of freshwater microbial communities. Based on these findings, increased storms in the coastal mid-Atlantic region predicted by most climate change models will likely have important impacts on the structure and function of local freshwater microbial communities.