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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Jul;74(13):4022-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00509-08. Epub 2008 May 9.

Isolation and characterization of a single-stranded RNA virus infecting the marine planktonic diatom Chaetoceros tenuissimus Meunier.

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National Research Institute of Fisheries and Environment of Inland Sea, Fisheries Research Agency, 2-17-5 Maruishi, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0452, Japan.


Diatoms are important components of the biological community and food web in the aquatic environment. Here, we report the characteristics of a single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) virus (CtenRNAV01) that infects the marine diatom Chaetoceros tenuissimus Meunier (Bacillariophyceae). The ca. 31-nm virus particle is icosahedral and lacks a tail. CtenRNAV01 forms crystalline arrays occupying most of the infected host's cytoplasm. By growth experiments, the lytic cycle and the burst size were estimated to be <24 h and approximately 1 x 10(4) infectious units per host cell, respectively. Stationary-phase C. tenuissimus cultures were shown to be more sensitive to CtenRNAV01 than logarithmic-phase cultures. The most noticeable feature of this virus is its exceptionally high yields of approximately 10(10) infectious units ml(-1); this is much higher than those of any other algal viruses previously characterized. CtenRNAV01 has two molecules of ssRNA of approximately 8.9 and 4.3 kb and three major proteins (33.5, 31.5, and 30.0 kDa). Sequencing of the total viral genome has produced only one large contig [9,431 bases excluding the poly(A) tail], suggesting considerable overlapping between the two RNA molecules. The monophyly of CtenRNAV01 compared to another diatom-infecting virus, Rhizosolenia setigera RNA virus, was strongly supported in a maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree constructed based on the concatenated amino acid sequences of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase domains. Although further analysis is required to determine the detailed classification and nomenclature of this virus, these data strongly suggest the existence of a diatom-infecting ssRNA virus group in natural waters.

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