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Novel pelagiphages prevail in the ocean

By Zefeng Zhang, Fang Qin, Feng Chen, Xiao Chu, Haiwei Luo, Rui Zhang, Sen Du, Zhen Tian, Yanlin Zhao

Posted 15 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2019.12.14.876532 (published DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.15272)

Viruses play a key role in biogeochemical cycling and host mortality, metabolism, physiology and evolution in the ocean. Viruses that infect the globally abundant marine SAR11 bacteria (pelagiphages) were reported to be an important component of the marine viral community. In this study, ten pelagiphages that infect three different Pelagibacter strains were isolated from various geographical locations and were genomically characterized. All ten pelagiphages are novel, representing four new lineages of the Podoviridae family. Although they share limited homology with cultured phage isolates, they are all closely related to some environmental viral fragments. Two HTVC023P-type pelagiphages are shown to be related to the abundant VC\_6 and VC\_8 viral populations of the Global Oceans Viromes (GOV) datasets. Interestingly, HTVC103P-type pelagiphages contain a structural module similar to that in SAR116 phage HMO-2011. Three HTVC111P-type pelagiphages and HTVC106P are also novel and related to GOV VC\_41 and VC\_67 viral populations, respectively. Remarkably, these pelagiphage represented phage groups are all globally distributed and predominant. Half of the top ten most abundant known marine phage groups are represented by pelagiphages. The HTVC023P-type group is the most abundant known viral group, exceeding the abundance of HTVC010P-type and HMO-2011-type groups. Furthermore, the HTVC023P-type group is also abundant throughout the water column. Altogether, this study has greatly broadened our understanding of pelagiphages regarding their genetic diversity, phage-host interactions and the distribution pattern. Availability of these newly isolated pelagiphages and their genome sequences will allow us to further explore their phage-host interactions and ecological strategies.

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