Germ Warfare in a Microbial Mat Community: CRISPRs Provide Insights into the Co-Evolution of Host and Viral Genomes

University of Hyderabad, India
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 02/2009; 4(1):e4169. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004169
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT CRISPR arrays and associated cas genes are widespread in bacteria and archaea and confer acquired resistance to viruses. To examine viral immunity in the context of naturally evolving microbial populations we analyzed genomic data from two thermophilic Synechococcus isolates (Syn OS-A and Syn OS-B') as well as a prokaryotic metagenome and viral metagenome derived from microbial mats in hotsprings at Yellowstone National Park. Two distinct CRISPR types, distinguished by the repeat sequence, are found in both the Syn OS-A and Syn OS-B' genomes. The genome of Syn OS-A contains a third CRISPR type with a distinct repeat sequence, which is not found in Syn OS-B', but appears to be shared with other microorganisms that inhabit the mat. The CRISPR repeats identified in the microbial metagenome are highly conserved, while the spacer sequences (hereafter referred to as "viritopes" to emphasize their critical role in viral immunity) were mostly unique and had no high identity matches when searched against GenBank. Searching the viritopes against the viral metagenome, however, yielded several matches with high similarity some of which were within a gene identified as a likely viral lysozyme/lysin protein. Analysis of viral metagenome sequences corresponding to this lysozyme/lysin protein revealed several mutations all of which translate into silent or conservative mutations which are unlikely to affect protein function, but may help the virus evade the host CRISPR resistance mechanism. These results demonstrate the varied challenges presented by a natural virus population, and support the notion that the CRISPR/viritope system must be able to adapt quickly to provide host immunity. The ability of metagenomics to track population-level variation in viritope sequences allows for a culture-independent method for evaluating the fast co-evolution of host and viral genomes and its consequence on the structuring of complex microbial communities.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hot springs have been investigated since the XIX century, but isolation and examination of their thermophilic microbial inhabitants did not start until the 1950s. Many thermophilic microorganisms and their viruses have since been discovered, although the real complexity of thermal communities was envisaged when research based on PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA genes arose. Thereafter, the possibility of cloning and sequencing the total environmental DNA, defined as metagenome, and the study of the genes rescued in the metagenomic libraries and assemblies made it possible to gain a more comprehensive understanding of microbial communities-their diversity, structure, the interactions existing between their components, and the factors shaping the nature of these communities. In the last decade, hot springs have been a source of thermophilic enzymes of industrial interest, encouraging further study of the poorly understood diversity of microbial life in these habitats.
    06/2013; 3(2):308-20. DOI:10.3390/life3020308
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Prokaryotic CRISPR-Cas systems confer resistance to viral infection and thus mediate bacteria-phage interactions. However, the distribution and functional diversity of CRISPRs among environmental bacteria remains largely unknown. Here, comparative genomics of 75 Salinispora strains provided insight into the diversity and distribution of CRISPR-Cas systems in a cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus. CRISPRs were found in all Salinispora strains, with the majority containing multiple loci and different Cas array subtypes. Of the six subtypes identified, three have not been previously described. A lower prophage frequency in S. arenicola was associated with a higher fraction of spacers matching Salinispora prophages compared to S. tropica, suggesting differing defensive capacities between Salinispora species. The occurrence of related prophages in strains from distant locations, as well as spacers matching those prophages inserted throughout spacer arrays, indicate recurring encounters with widely distributed phages over time. Linkages of CRISPR features with Salinispora microdiversity pointed to subclade-specific contacts with mobile genetic elements (MGEs). This included lineage-specific spacer deletions or insertions, which may reflect weak selective pressures to maintain immunity or distinct temporal interactions with MGEs, respectively. Biogeographic patterns in spacer and prophage distributions support the concept that Salinispora spp. encounter localized MGEs. Moreover, the presence of spacers matching housekeeping genes suggests that CRISPRs may have functions outside of viral defense. This study provides a comprehensive examination of CRISPR-Cas systems in a broadly distributed group of environmental bacteria. The ubiquity and diversity of CRISPRs in Salinispora spp. suggests that CRISPR-mediated interactions with MGEs represent a major force in the ecology and evolution of this cosmopolitan marine actinomycete genus.
    BMC Genomics 10/2014; 15:936. DOI:10.1186/1471-2164-15-936 · 4.04 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic sequencing was conducted on cyanobacterial mats of the Middle Island Sinkhole (MIS), Lake Huron. Metagenomic data from 14 samples collected over five years were used to reconstruct genomes of two genotypes of a novel virus, designated PhV1 type A and PhV1 type B. Both viral genotypes encode and express nblA, a gene involved in degrading phycobilisomes, which are complexes of pigmented proteins that harvest light for photosynthesis. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the viral-encoded nblA is derived from the host cyanobacterium, Phormidium MIS-PhA. The cyanobacterial host also has two complete CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) systems that serve as defense mechanisms for bacteria and archaea against viruses and plasmids. One 45 bp CRISPR spacer from Phormidium had 100% nucleotide identity to PhV1 type B, but this region was absent from the PhV1 type A. Transcripts from PhV1 and the Phormidium CRISPR loci were detected in all six metatranscriptomic datasets (three during the day and three at night), indicating that both are transcriptionally active in the environment. These results reveal ecological and genetic interactions between viruses and cyanobacteria at MIS, highlighting the value of parallel analysis of viruses and hosts in understanding ecological interactions in natural communities.
    Environmental Microbiology 01/2015; DOI:10.1111/1462-2920.12756 · 6.24 Impact Factor

Full-text (3 Sources)

Available from
Apr 20, 2015