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Environ Microbiol. 2012 Aug;14(8):2171-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02744.x. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Seasonality and monthly dynamics of marine myovirus communities.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371, USA.


Marine myoviruses (i.e. bacteriophages with a contractile tail sheath) are numerically abundant and genetically diverse. We developed a terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism assay (TRFLP) for g23, the conserved gene encoding the major capsid protein, to investigate T4-like myovirus communities at USC's Microbial Observatory at the San Pedro Ocean Time-series (SPOT), where we previously reported bacterial seasonality. Between 71 and 154 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were observed monthly over 3 years. Roughly 25% of OTUs were detected in 31 or more months. T4-like myoviral community structure varied seasonally with some OTUs peaking repeatedly in spring-summer and others in fall-winter, while moderately abundant OTUs persisted year-round. Recurring community structure was demonstrated using discriminant function analysis (DFA, selecting taxa that best predict months) and average Bray-Curtis similarity. DFA showed communities from adjacent months or 12 months apart were positively auto-correlated, while communities 3-7 months apart were negatively auto-correlated. Bray-Curtis similarity was highest between adjacent months - with a local maximum at 12-month and local minima at 6- and 18- to 20-month lags. The T4-like virus community at SPOT exhibited seasonality, yet the somewhat unexpected persistence of moderately abundant OTUs and predictability of the community add new twists to existing conceptual models of marine viruses.

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