Marine Science Faculty Publications

Genomic Analysis of Uncultured Marine Viral Communities

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Viruses are the most common biological entities in the oceans by an order of magnitude. However, very little is known about their diversity. Here we report a genomic analysis of two uncultured marine viral communities. Over 65% of the sequences were not significantly similar to previously reported sequences, suggesting that much of the diversity is previously uncharacterized. The most common significant hits among the known sequences were to viruses. The viral hits included sequences from all of the major families of dsDNA tailed phages, as well as some algal viruses. Several independent mathematical models based on the observed number of contigs predicted that the most abundant viral genome comprised 2–3% of the total population in both communities, which was estimated to contain between 374 and 7,114 viral types. Overall, diversity of the viral communities was extremely high. The results also showed that it would be possible to sequence the entire genome of an uncultured marine viral community.

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Proceedings of the National Academy USA, v. 99, no. 22, p. 14250-14255