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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Sep;78(18):6583-91. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01705-12. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Temporal dynamics and decay of putatively allochthonous and autochthonous viral genotypes in contrasting freshwater lakes.

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Department of Microbiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.


Aquatic viruses play important roles in the biogeochemistry and ecology of lacustrine ecosystems; however, their composition, dynamics, and interactions with viruses of terrestrial origin are less extensively studied. We used a viral shotgun metagenomic approach to elucidate candidate autochthonous (i.e., produced within the lake) and allochthonous (i.e., washed in from other habitats) viral genotypes for a comparative study of their dynamics in lake waters. Based on shotgun metagenomes prepared from catchment soil and freshwater samples from two contrasting lakes (Cayuga Lake and Fayetteville Green Lake), we selected two putatively autochthonous viral genotypes (phycodnaviruses likely infecting algae and cyanomyoviruses likely infecting picocyanobacteria) and two putatively allochthonous viral genotypes (geminiviruses likely infecting terrestrial plants and circoviruses infecting unknown hosts but common in soil libraries) for analysis by genotype-specific quantitative PCR (TaqMan) applied to DNAs from viruses in the viral size fraction of lake plankton, i.e., 0.2 μm > virus > 0.02 μm. The abundance of autochthonous genotypes largely reflected expected host abundance, while the abundance of allochthonous genotypes corresponded with rainfall and storm events in the respective catchments, suggesting that viruses with these genotypes may have been transported to the lake in runoff. The decay rates of allochthonous and autochthonous genotypes, assessed in incubations where all potential hosts were killed, were generally lower (0.13 to 1.50% h(-1)) than those reported for marine virioplankton but similar to those for freshwater virioplankton. Both allochthonous and autochthonous viral genotypes were detected at higher concentrations in subsurface sediments than at the water-sediment interface. Our data indicate that putatively allochthonous viruses are present in lake plankton and sediments, where their temporal dynamics reflect active transport to the lake during hydrological events and then decay once there.

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