Three Prochlorococcus cyanophage genomes: Signature features and ecological interpretations

Matthew Sullivan, Maureen L. Coleman, Peter Weigele, Forest Rohwer, Sallie W. Chisholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

343 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The oceanic cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus are globally important, ecologically diverse primary producers. It is thought that their viruses (phages) mediate population sizes and affect the evolutionary trajectories of their hosts. Here we present an analysis of genomes from three Prochlorococcus phages: a podovirus and two myoviruses. The morphology, overall genome features, and gene content of these phages suggest that they are quite similar to T7-like (P-SSP7) and T4-like (P-SSM2 and P-SSM4) phages. Using the existing phage taxonomic framework as a guideline, we examined genome sequences to establish "core" genes for each phage group. We found the podovirus contained 15 of 26 core T7-like genes and the two myoviruses contained 43 and 42 of 75 core T4-like genes. In addition to these core genes, each genome contains a significant number of "cyanobacterial" genes, i.e., genes with significant best BLAST hits to genes found in cyanobacteria. Some of these, we speculate, represent "signature" cyanophage genes. For example, all three phage genomes contain photosynthetic genes (psbA, hliP) that are thought to help maintain host photosynthetic activity during infection, as well as an aldolase family gene (talC) that could facilitate alternative routes of carbon metabolism during infection. The podovirus genome also contains an integrase gene (int) and other features that suggest it is capable of integrating into its host. If indeed it is, this would be unprecedented among cultured T7-like phages or marine cyanophages and would have significant evolutionary and ecological implications for phage and host. Further, both myoviruses contain phosphate-inducible genes (phoH and pstS) that are likely to be important for phage and host responses to phosphate stress, a commonly limiting nutrient in marine systems. Thus, these marine cyanophages appear to be variations of two well-known phages-T7 and T4-but contain genes that, if functional, reflect adaptations for infection of photosynthetic hosts in low-nutrient oceanic environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)790-806
Number of pages17
JournalPLoS Biology
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

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Prochlorococcus
Genes
bacteriophages
Genome
Bacteriophages
genome
genes
Cyanobacteria
Podoviridae
Infection
Phosphates
infection
phosphates
Talc
Bacteriophage T7
talc
Integrases
Nutrients
Food
fructose-bisphosphate aldolase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Three Prochlorococcus cyanophage genomes : Signature features and ecological interpretations. / Sullivan, Matthew; Coleman, Maureen L.; Weigele, Peter; Rohwer, Forest; Chisholm, Sallie W.

In: PLoS Biology, Vol. 3, No. 5, 05.2005, p. 790-806.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sullivan, Matthew ; Coleman, Maureen L. ; Weigele, Peter ; Rohwer, Forest ; Chisholm, Sallie W. / Three Prochlorococcus cyanophage genomes : Signature features and ecological interpretations. In: PLoS Biology. 2005 ; Vol. 3, No. 5. pp. 790-806.
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