Environmental viral genomes shed new light on virus-host interactions in the ocean

Yosuke Nishimura, Hiroyasu Watai, Takashi Honda, Tomoko Mihara, Kimiho Omae, Simon Roux, Romain Blanc-Mathieu, Keigo Yamamoto, Pascal Hingamp, Yoshihiko Sako, Matthew B. Sullivan, Susumu Goto, Hiroyuki Ogata, Takashi Yoshida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Metagenomics has revealed the existence of numerous uncharacterized viral lineages, which are referred to as viral "dark matter." However, our knowledge regarding viral genomes is biased toward culturable viruses. In this study, we analyzed 1,600 (1,352 nonredundant) complete double-stranded DNA viral genomes (10 to 211 kb) assembled from 52 marine viromes. Together with 244 previously reported uncultured viral genomes, a genome-wide comparison delineated 617 genuslevel operational taxonomic units (OTUs) for these environmental viral genomes (EVGs). Of these, 600 OTUs contained no representatives from known viruses, thus putatively corresponding to novel viral genera. Predicted hosts of the EVGs included major groups of marine prokaryotes, such as marine group II Euryarchaeota and SAR86, from which no viruses have been isolated to date, as well as Flavobacteriaceae and SAR116. Our analysis indicates that marine cyanophages are already well represented in genome databases and that one of the EVGs likely represents a new cyanophage lineage. Several EVGs encode many enzymes that appear to function for an efficient utilization of iron-sulfur clusters or to enhance host survival. This suggests that there is a selection pressure on these marine viruses to accumulate genes for specific viral propagation strategies. Finally, we revealed that EVGs contribute to a 4-fold increase in the recruitment of photic-zone viromes compared with the use of current reference viral genomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00359-16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Genome
  • Marine ecosystem
  • Metabolism
  • Metagenomics
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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