Diversity of dsDNA viruses in a South African hot spring assessed by metagenomics and microscopy
van Zyl, Leonardo Joaquim
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The current view of virus diversity in terrestrial hot springs is limited to a few sampling sites. To expand our current understanding of hot spring viral community diversity, this study aimed to investigate the first African hot spring (Brandvlei hot spring; 60 C, pH 5.7) by means of electron microscopy and sequencing of the virus fraction. Microscopy analysis revealed a mixture of regular- and ‘jumbo’-sized tailed morphotypes (Caudovirales), lemon-shaped virions (Fuselloviridae-like; salterprovirus-like) and pleiomorphic virus-like particles. Metavirome analysis corroborated the presence of His1-like viruses and has expanded the current clade of salterproviruses using a polymerase B gene phylogeny. The most represented viral contig was to a cyanophage genome fragment, which may underline basic ecosystem functioning provided by these viruses. Furthermore, a putative Gemmata-related phage was assembled with high coverage, a previously undocumented phage-host association. This study demonstrated that a moderately thermophilic spring environment contained a highly novel pool of viruses and should encourage future characterization of a wider temperature range of hot springs throughout the world.