Original Article

Subject Category: Microbial population and community ecology

The ISME Journal (2010) 4, 1243–1251; doi:10.1038/ismej.2010.56; published online 13 May 2010

Ubiquitous cyanobacterial podoviruses in the global oceans unveiled through viral DNA polymerase gene sequences

Sijun Huang1,2, Steven W Wilhelm3, Nianzhi Jiao1 and Feng Chen2

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
  2. 2Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Baltimore, MD, USA
  3. 3Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

Correspondence: Feng Chen, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Baltimore, MD 21202, USA E-mail: chenf@umbi.umd.edu; Nianzhi Jiao, State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, China E-mail: jiao@xmu.edu.cn

Received 20 October 2009; Revised 4 March 2010; Accepted 15 March 2010; Published online 13 May 2010.

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Abstract

As a major cyanophage group, cyanobacterial podoviruses are important in regulating the biomass and population structure of picocyanobacteria in the ocean. However, little is known about their biogeography in the open ocean. This study represents the first survey of the biodiversity of cyanopodoviruses in the global oceans based on the viral encoded DNA polymerase (pol) gene. A total of 303 DNA pol sequences were amplified by PCR from 10 virus communities collected in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the South China Sea. At least five subclusters of cyanopodoviruses were identified in these samples, and one subcluster (subcluster VIII) was found in all sampling sites and comprised approximately 50% of total sequences. The diversity index based on the DNA pol gene sequences recovered through PCR suggests that cyanopodoviruses are less diverse in these oceanic samples than in a previously studied estuarine environment. Although diverse podoviruses were present in the global ocean, each sample was dominated by one major group of cyanopodoviruses. No clear biogeographic patterns were observed using statistical analysis. A metagenomic analysis based on the Global Ocean Sampling database indicates that other types of cyanopodovirus-like DNA pol sequences were present in the global ocean. Together, our study results suggest that cyanopodoviruses are widely distributed in the ocean but their community composition varies with local environments.

Keywords:

picocyanobacteria; cyanophage; podoviruses; DNA polymerase gene; diversity; global oceans

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