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ISME J. 2012 Mar;6(3):619-28. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.146. Epub 2011 Oct 20.

Cyanophage tRNAs may have a role in cross-infectivity of oceanic Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus hosts.

Author information

1
Faculty of Biology, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel.

Abstract

Marine cyanobacteria of the genera Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus are the most abundant photosynthetic prokaryotes in oceanic environments, and are key contributors to global CO(2) fixation, chlorophyll biomass and primary production. Cyanophages, viruses infecting cyanobacteria, are a major force in the ecology of their hosts. These phages contribute greatly to cyanobacterial mortality, therefore acting as a powerful selective force upon their hosts. Phage reproduction is based on utilization of the host transcription and translation mechanisms; therefore, differences in the G+C genomic content between cyanophages and their hosts could be a limiting factor for the translation of cyanophage genes. On the basis of comprehensive genomic analyses conducted in this study, we suggest that cyanophages of the Myoviridae family, which can infect both Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus, overcome this limitation by carrying additional sets of tRNAs in their genomes accommodating AT-rich codons. Whereas the tRNA genes are less needed when infecting their Prochlorococcus hosts, which possess a similar G+C content to the cyanophage, the additional tRNAs may increase the overall translational efficiency of their genes when infecting a Synechococcus host (with high G+C content), therefore potentially enabling the infection of multiple hosts.

PMID:
22011720
PMCID:
PMC3280135
DOI:
10.1038/ismej.2011.146
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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