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Annu Rev Virol. 2016 Sep 29;3(1):197-214.

Viruses as Winners in the Game of Life.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182; email: frohwer@gmail.com.
2
Rainbow Rock, Captain Cook, Hawaii 96704.
3
Computational Sciences Research Center, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182.
4
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, San Diego State University, San Diego, California 92182.

Abstract

Viruses are the most abundant and the most diverse life form. In this meta-analysis we estimate that there are 4.80×1031 phages on Earth. Further, 97% of viruses are in soil and sediment-two underinvestigated biomes that combined account for only ∼2.5% of publicly available viral metagenomes. The majority of the most abundant viral sequences from all biomes are novel. Our analysis drawing on all publicly available viral metagenomes observed a mere 257,698 viral genotypes on Earth-an unrealistically low number-which attests to the current paucity of viral metagenomic data. Further advances in viral ecology and diversity call for a shift of attention to previously ignored major biomes and careful application of verified methods for viral metagenomic analysis.

KEYWORDS:

biogeography; metagenomics; phage abundance; phage diversity; phage ecology; viruses

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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