Metagenomic analysis of the viral community in Namib Desert hypoliths

Environmental Microbiology
Evelien M AdriaenssensDon A Cowan


Hypolithic microbial communities are specialized desert communities inhabiting the underside of translucent rocks. Here, we present the first study of the viral fraction of these communities isolated from the hyperarid Namib Desert. The taxonomic composition of the hypolithic viral communities was investigated and a functional assessment of the sequences determined. Phylotypic analysis showed that bacteriophages belonging to the order Caudovirales, in particular the family Siphoviridae, were most prevalent. Functional analysis and comparison with other metaviromes revealed a relatively high frequency of cell wall-degrading enzymes, ribonucleotide reductases (RNRs) and phage-associated genes. Phylogenetic analyses of terL and phoH marker genes indicated that many of the sequences were novel and distinct from known isolates, and the class distribution of the RNRs suggests that this is a novel environment. The composition of the viral hypolith fraction containing many Bacillus-infecting phages was not completely consistent with Namib hypolith phylotypic surveys of the bacterial hosts, in which the cyanobacterial genus Chroococcidiopsis was found to be dominant. This could be attributed to the lack of sequence information about hyp...Continue Reading


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