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Flexible genes establish widespread bacteriophage pan-genomes in cryoconite hole ecosystems

Bellas, C. M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5084-7830, Schroeder, D. C. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5991-2838, Edwards, A., Barker, G. and Anesio, A. M. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2990-4014 (2020) Flexible genes establish widespread bacteriophage pan-genomes in cryoconite hole ecosystems. Nature communications, 11 (1). 4403. ISSN 2041-1723

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18236-8

Abstract/Summary

Bacteriophage genomes rapidly evolve via mutation and horizontal gene transfer to counter evolving bacterial host defenses; such arms race dynamics should lead to divergence between phages from similar, geographically isolated ecosystems. However, near-identical phage genomes can reoccur over large geographical distances and several years apart, conversely suggesting many are stably maintained. Here, we show that phages with near-identical core genomes in distant, discrete aquatic ecosystems maintain diversity by possession of numerous flexible gene modules, where homologous genes present in the pan-genome interchange to create new phage variants. By repeatedly reconstructing the core and flexible regions of phage genomes from different metagenomes, we show a pool of homologous gene variants co-exist for each module in each location, however, the dominant variant shuffles independently in each module. These results suggest that in a natural community, recombination is the largest contributor to phage diversity, allowing a variety of host recognition receptors and genes to counter bacterial defenses to co-exist for each phage.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
ID Code:92909
Publisher:Nature

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