Research ArticleMICROBIAL ECOLOGY

Biodiversity and distribution of polar freshwater DNA viruses

Science Advances  19 Jun 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 5, e1400127
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400127

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Abstract

Viruses constitute the most abundant biological entities and a large reservoir of genetic diversity on Earth. Despite the recent surge in their study, our knowledge on their actual biodiversity and distribution remains sparse. We report the first metagenomic analysis of Arctic freshwater viral DNA communities and a comparative analysis with other freshwater environments. Arctic viromes are dominated by unknown and single-stranded DNA viruses with no close relatives in the database. These unique viral DNA communities mostly relate to each other and present some minor genetic overlap with other environments studied, including an Arctic Ocean virome. Despite common environmental conditions in polar ecosystems, the Arctic and Antarctic DNA viromes differ at the fine-grain genetic level while sharing a similar taxonomic composition. The study uncovers some viral lineages with a bipolar distribution, suggesting a global dispersal capacity for viruses, and seemingly indicates that viruses do not follow the latitudinal diversity gradient known for macroorganisms. Our study sheds light into the global biogeography and connectivity of viral communities.

Keywords
  • Virus
  • metagenomics
  • Arctic
  • environmental microbiology
  • biodiversity
  • freshwater lake

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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