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Cryptic inoviruses are pervasive in bacteria and archaea across Earth's biomes

By Simon Roux, Mart Krupovic, Rebecca A Daly, Adair L. Borges, Stephen Nayfach, Frederik Schulz, Jan-Fang Cheng, Natalia N. Ivanova, Joseph Bondy-Denomy, Kelly C. Wrighton, Tanja Woyke, Axel Visel, Nikos C. Kyrpides, Emiley A. Eloe-Fadrosh

Posted 15 Feb 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/548222

Bacteriophages from the Inoviridae family (inoviruses) are characterized by their unique morphology, genome content, and infection cycle. To date, a relatively small number of inovirus isolates have been extensively studied, either for biotechnological applications such as phage display, or because of their impact on the toxicity of known bacterial pathogens including Vibrio cholerae and Neisseria meningitidis. Here we show that the current 56 members of the Inoviridae family represent a minute fraction of a highly diverse group of inoviruses. Using a new machine learning approach leveraging a combination of marker gene and genome features, we identified 10,295 inovirus-like genomes from microbial genomes and metagenomes. Collectively, these represent six distinct proposed inovirus families infecting nearly all bacterial phyla across virtually every ecosystem. Putative inoviruses were also detected in several archaeal genomes, suggesting that these viruses may have occasionally transferred from bacterial to archaeal hosts. Finally, we identified an expansive diversity of inovirus-encoded toxin-antitoxin and gene expression modulation systems, alongside evidence of both synergistic (CRISPR evasion) and antagonistic (superinfection exclusion) interactions with co-infecting viruses which we experimentally validated in a Pseudomonas model. Capturing this previously obscured component of the global virosphere sparks new avenues for microbial manipulation approaches and innovative biotechnological applications.

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