Coral-associated viral communities show high levels of diversity and host auxiliary functions
AuthorWeynberg, KD; Laffy, PW; Wood-Charlson, EM; Turaev, D; Rattei, T; Webster, NS; van Oppen, MJH
University of Melbourne Author/svan Oppen, Madeleine
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsWeynberg, K. D., Laffy, P. W., Wood-Charlson, E. M., Turaev, D., Rattei, T., Webster, N. S. & van Oppen, M. J. H. (2017). Coral-associated viral communities show high levels of diversity and host auxiliary functions. PEERJ, 5 (11), https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4054.
Access StatusOpen Access
Stony corals (Scleractinia) are marine invertebrates that form the foundation and framework upon which tropical reefs are built. The coral animal associates with a diverse microbiome comprised of dinoflagellate algae and other protists, bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses. Using a metagenomics approach, we analysed the DNA and RNA viral assemblages of seven coral species from the central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), demonstrating that tailed bacteriophages of the Caudovirales dominate across all species examined, and ssDNA viruses, notably the Microviridae, are also prevalent. Most sequences with matches to eukaryotic viruses were assigned to six viral families, including four Nucleocytoplasmic Large DNA Viruses (NCLDVs) families: Iridoviridae, Phycodnaviridae, Mimiviridae, and Poxviridae, as well as Retroviridae and Polydnaviridae. Contrary to previous findings, Herpesvirales were rare in these GBR corals. Sequences of a ssRNA virus with similarities to the dinornavirus, Heterocapsa circularisquama ssRNA virus of the Alvernaviridae that infects free-living dinoflagellates, were observed in three coral species. We also detected viruses previously undescribed from the coral holobiont, including a virus that targets fungi associated with the coral species Acropora tenuis. Functional analysis of the assembled contigs indicated a high prevalence of latency-associated genes in the coral-associated viral assemblages, several host-derived auxiliary metabolic genes (AMGs) for photosynthesis (psbA, psbD genes encoding the photosystem II D1 and D2 proteins respectively), as well as potential nematocyst toxins and antioxidants (genes encoding green fluorescent-like chromoprotein). This study expands the currently limited knowledge on coral-associated viruses by characterising viral composition and function across seven GBR coral species.
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