UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Virus and Potential Host Microbes from Viral-Enriched Metagenomic Characterization in the High-Altitude Wetland, Salar de Huasco, Chile Eissler, Yoanna; Dorador, Cristina; Kieft, Brandon; Molina, Verónica; Hengst, Martha


Salar de Huasco is a wetland in the Andes mountains, located 3800 m above sea level at the Chilean Altiplano. Here we present a study aimed at characterizing the viral fraction and the microbial communities through metagenomic analysis. Two ponds (H0 and H3) were examined in November 2015. Water samples were processed using tangential flow filtration to obtain metagenomes from which the DNA fraction of the sample was amplified and sequenced (HiSeq system, Illumina). The ponds were characterized by freshwater and the viral-like particles to picoplankton ratio was 12.1 and 2.3 for H0 and H3, respectively. A great number of unassigned viral sequences were found in H0 (55.8%) and H3 (32.8%), followed by the family Fuselloviridae 20.8% (H0) and other less relatively abundant groups such as Microviridae (H0, 11.7% and H3, 3.3%) and Inoviridae (H3, 2.7%). The dominant viral sequences in both metagenomes belong to the order Caudovirales, with Siphoviridae being the most important family, especially in H3 (32.7%). The most important bacteria phyla were Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes in both sites, followed by Cyanobacteria (H0). Genes encoding lysogenic and lytic enzymes (i.e., recombinases and integrases) were found in H0 and H3, indicating a potential for active viral replication at the time of sampling; this was supported by the presence of viral metabolic auxiliary genes at both sites (e.g., cysteine hydrolase). In total, our study indicates a great novelty of viral groups, differences in taxonomic diversity and replication pathways between sites, which contribute to a better understanding of how viruses balance the cycling of energy and matter in this extreme environment.

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