Unveiling Ecological and Genetic Novelty within Lytic and Lysogenic Viral Communities of Hot Spring Phototrophic Microbial Mats


Viruses exert diverse ecosystem impacts by controlling their host community through lytic predator-prey dynamics. However, the mechanisms by which ly-sogenic viruses influence their host-microbial community are less clear. In hot springs, lysogeny is considered an active lifestyle, yet it has not been systematically studied in all habitats, with phototrophic microbial mats (PMMs) being particularly not studied. We carried out viral metagenomics following in situ mitomycin C induction experiments in PMMs from Porcelana hot spring (Northern Patagonia, Chile). The compositional changes of viral communities at two different sites were analyzed at the genomic and gene levels. Furthermore, the presence of integrated prophage sequences in environmental metagenome-assembled genomes from published Porcelana PMM metagenomes was analyzed. Our results suggest that virus-specific replicative cycles (lytic and lysogenic) were associated with specific host taxa with different metabolic capacities. One of the most abundant lytic viral groups corresponded to cyanophages, which would infect the cyanobacteria Fischerella, the most active and dominant primary producer in thermophilic PMMs. Likewise, lysogenic viruses were related exclusively to chemoheterotrophic bacteria from the phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. These temperate viruses possess accessory genes to sense or control stress-related processes in their hosts, such as sporu-lation and biofilm formation. Taken together, these observations suggest a nexus between the ecological role of the host (metabolism) and the type of viral lifestyle in thermophilic PMMs. This has direct implications in viral ecology, where the lyso-genic-lytic switch is determined by nutrient abundance and microbial density but also by the metabolism type that prevails in the host community. IMPORTANCE Hot springs harbor microbial communities dominated by a limited variety of microorganisms and, as such, have become a model for studying community ecology and understanding how biotic and abiotic interactions shape their structure.

Microbiology Spectrum
Sergio Guajardo-Leiva
Sergio Guajardo-Leiva
Scientific Collaborator
Oscar Salgado
Oscar Salgado
PhD. Student
Beatriz Díez Moreno
Beatriz Díez Moreno
Associate Professor.
P. Universidad Católica de Chile.
School of Biological Sciences,
Department of Molecular
Genetics and Microbiology,
Santiago, Chile.