AME - Vol. 66 No. 2 - Feature article

Composite epifluorescence micrograph of bacteria stained with DAPI (blue) and viruses (green) stained with SYBR Gold. Image by Matthew T. Cottrell.

Cottrell MT, Kirchman DL

 

Virus genes in Arctic marine bacteria identified by metagenomic analysis

 

Viruses have large impacts on the population dynamics and evolution of bacteria and other microbes in nature, evident from the remains of viral genes in microbial genomes. However, the impact of viruses on microbial genomes in natural environments remains unclear. This study used a metagenomic approach to explore interactions between viruses and uncultivated microbes in the Arctic Ocean where cold temperatures and low abundances of both viruses and bacteria were thought to limit viral infections. Contrary to expectations, more viral genes were found in bacterial genomes in these Arctic waters than seen in lower latitude systems, suggesting that viruses have long-term effects on bacterial communities in the Arctic even if rates of viral lysis are low.

 

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