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66, No. xx, 2012; Pages: 107 - 116

Virus genes in Arctic marine bacteria identified by metagenomic analysis

Matthew T. Cottrell, David L. Kirchman

School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, 700 Pilottown Rd., Lewes, Delaware 19958, USA.


The relationship between viruses and prokaryotes in the Arctic appears to differ from that at lower latitudes because of low temperature and low abundances of viruses and bacteria, but the impact of viruses on Arctic bacterial genomes is unclear. In the present study, genome fragments of bacteria from the western Arctic Ocean were se - quenced to explore the prevalence of virus genes in the genomes of bacteria inhabiting these perennially cold waters. Arctic bacterial genomes were sampled by cloning bacterial environmental DNA into a fosmid vector, and virus DNA within the bacterial genomes was identified using marine viral meta -genomes to query the bacterial genomes using the basic local alignment search tool (BLAST). Virus DNA flanked by bacterial DNA was identified as being part of bacterial genomes. Virus DNA was ~3-fold more abundant in Arctic bacterial genomes than in bacterial genomes from Monterey Bay and ~10-fold more abundant than in bacterial genomes from Antarctic waters. Phage terminase genes involved in packaging DNA into phage capsids were the most abundant gene family identified in the Arctic bacterial genomes. Viruses appear to have a larger impact on prokaryotic communities in the Arctic than what might be inferred from the low bacterial and viral abundances in this high latitude ocean.

Keywords: Bacterial metagenome; Viruses; Phages; Lysogeny; Arctic; Fosmid



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