Deep sea sediments associated with cold seeps are a subsurface reservoir of viral diversity
In marine ecosystems, viruses exert control on the composition and metabolism of microbial communities, thus influencing overall biogeochemical cycling. Deep sea sediments associated with cold seeps are known to host taxonomically diverse microbial communities, but little is known about viruses infecting these microorganisms. Here, we probed metagenomes from seven geographically diverse cold seeps across global oceans, to assess viral diversity, virus-host interaction, and virus-encoded auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs). Gene-sharing network comparisons with viruses inhabiting other ecosystems reveal that cold seep sediments harbour considerable unexplored viral diversity. Most cold seep viruses display high degrees of endemism with seep fluid flux being one of the main drivers of viral community composition. In silico predictions linked 14.2% of the viruses to microbial host populations, with many belonging to poorly understood candidate bacterial and archaeal phyla. Lysis was predicted to be a predominant viral lifestyle based on lineage-specific virus/host abundance ratios. Metabolic predictions of prokaryotic host genomes and viral AMGs suggest that viruses influence microbial hydrocarbon biodegradation at cold seeps, as well as other carbon, sulfur and nitrogen cycling via virus-induced mortality and/or metabolic augmentation. Overall, these findings reveal the global diversity and biogeography of cold seep viruses and indicate how viruses may manipulate seep microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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