Viruses are the most abundant and diverse genetic entities on Earth; however, broad surveys of viral diversity are hindered by the lack of a universal assay for viruses and the inability to sample a sufficient number of individual hosts. This study utilized vector-enabled metagenomics (VEM) to provide a snapshot of the diversity of DNA viruses present in three mosquito samples from San Diego, California. The majority of the sequences were novel, suggesting that the viral community in mosquitoes, as well as the animal and plant hosts they feed on, is highly diverse and largely uncharacterized. Each mosquito sample contained a distinct viral community. The mosquito viromes contained sequences related to a broad range of animal, plant, insect and bacterial viruses. Animal viruses identified included anelloviruses, circoviruses, herpesviruses, poxviruses, and papillomaviruses, which mosquitoes may have obtained from vertebrate hosts during blood feeding. Notably, sequences related to human papillomaviruses were identified in one of the mosquito samples. Sequences similar to plant viruses were identified in all mosquito viromes, which were potentially acquired through feeding on plant nectar. Numerous bacteriophages and insect viruses were also detected, including a novel densovirus likely infecting Culex erythrothorax. Through sampling insect vectors, VEM enables broad survey of viral diversity and has significantly increased our knowledge of the DNA viruses present in mosquitoes.
Metagenomic analysis of viruses suggests novel patterns of evolution, changes the existing ideas of the composition of the virus world and reveals novel groups of viruses and virus-like agents. The gene composition of the marine DNA virome is dramatically different from that of known bacteriophages. The virome is dominated by rare genes, many of which might be contained within virus-like entities such as gene transfer agents. Analysis of marine metagenomes thought to consist mostly of bacterial genes revealed a variety of sequences homologous to conserved genes of eukaryotic nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses, resulting in the discovery of diverse members of previously undersampled groups and suggesting the existence of new classes of virus-like agents. Unexpectedly, metagenomics of marine RNA viruses showed that representatives of only one superfamily of eukaryotic viruses, the picorna-like viruses, dominate the RNA virome.
The nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDV) constitute an apparently monophyletic group that consists of 6 families of viruses infecting a broad variety of eukaryotes. A comprehensive genome comparison and maximum-likelihood reconstruction of NCLDV evolution reveal a set of approximately 50 conserved genes that can be tentatively mapped to the genome of the common ancestor of this class of eukaryotic viruses. We address the origins and evolution of NCLDV.
Phylogenetic analysis indicates that some of the major clades of NCLDV infect diverse animals and protists, suggestive of early radiation of the NCLDV, possibly concomitant with eukaryogenesis. The core NCLDV genes seem to have originated from different sources including homologous genes of bacteriophages, bacteria and eukaryotes. These observations are compatible with a scenario of the origin of the NCLDV at an early stage of the evolution of eukaryotes through extensive mixing of genes from widely different genomes.
The common ancestor of the NCLDV probably evolved from a bacteriophage as a result of recruitment of numerous eukaryotic and some bacterial genes, and concomitant loss of the majority of phage genes except for a small core of genes coding for proteins essential for virus genome replication and virion formation.
Bacteriophage; Eukaryogenesis; Nucleo-cytoplasmic large DNA viruses, evolution; Phylogenetic analysis
Recent advances in genomics of viruses and cellular life forms have greatly stimulated interest in the origins and evolution of viruses and, for the first time, offer an opportunity for a data-driven exploration of the deepest roots of viruses. Here we briefly review the current views of virus evolution and propose a new, coherent scenario that appears to be best compatible with comparative-genomic data and is naturally linked to models of cellular evolution that, from independent considerations, seem to be the most parsimonious among the existing ones.
Several genes coding for key proteins involved in viral replication and morphogenesis as well as the major capsid protein of icosahedral virions are shared by many groups of RNA and DNA viruses but are missing in cellular life forms. On the basis of this key observation and the data on extensive genetic exchange between diverse viruses, we propose the concept of the ancient virus world. The virus world is construed as a distinct contingent of viral genes that continuously retained its identity throughout the entire history of life. Under this concept, the principal lineages of viruses and related selfish agents emerged from the primordial pool of primitive genetic elements, the ancestors of both cellular and viral genes. Thus, notwithstanding the numerous gene exchanges and acquisitions attributed to later stages of evolution, most, if not all, modern viruses and other selfish agents are inferred to descend from elements that belonged to the primordial genetic pool. In this pool, RNA viruses would evolve first, followed by retroid elements, and DNA viruses. The Virus World concept is predicated on a model of early evolution whereby emergence of substantial genetic diversity antedates the advent of full-fledged cells, allowing for extensive gene mixing at this early stage of evolution. We outline a scenario of the origin of the main classes of viruses in conjunction with a specific model of precellular evolution under which the primordial gene pool dwelled in a network of inorganic compartments. Somewhat paradoxically, under this scenario, we surmise that selfish genetic elements ancestral to viruses evolved prior to typical cells, to become intracellular parasites once bacteria and archaea arrived at the scene. Selection against excessively aggressive parasites that would kill off the host ensembles of genetic elements would lead to early evolution of temperate virus-like agents and primitive defense mechanisms, possibly, based on the RNA interference principle. The emergence of the eukaryotic cell is construed as the second melting pot of virus evolution from which the major groups of eukaryotic viruses originated as a result of extensive recombination of genes from various bacteriophages, archaeal viruses, plasmids, and the evolving eukaryotic genomes. Again, this vision is predicated on a specific model of the emergence of eukaryotic cell under which archaeo-bacterial symbiosis was the starting point of eukaryogenesis, a scenario that appears to be best compatible with the data.
The existence of several genes that are central to virus replication and structure, are shared by a broad variety of viruses but are missing from cellular genomes (virus hallmark genes) suggests the model of an ancient virus world, a flow of virus-specific genes that went uninterrupted from the precellular stage of life's evolution to this day. This concept is tightly linked to two key conjectures on evolution of cells: existence of a complex, precellular, compartmentalized but extensively mixing and recombining pool of genes, and origin of the eukaryotic cell by archaeo-bacterial fusion. The virus world concept and these models of major transitions in the evolution of cells provide complementary pieces of an emerging coherent picture of life's history.
W. Ford Doolittle, J. Peter Gogarten, and Arcady Mushegian.
Bats are natural hosts for a large variety of zoonotic viruses. This study aimed to describe the range of bat viromes, including viruses from mammals, insects, fungi, plants, and phages, in 11 insectivorous bat species (216 bats in total) common in six provinces of China. To analyze viromes, we used sequence-independent PCR amplification and next-generation sequencing technology (Solexa Genome Analyzer II; Illumina). The viromes were identified by sequence similarity comparisons to known viruses. The mammalian viruses included those of the Adenoviridae, Herpesviridae, Papillomaviridae, Retroviridae, Circoviridae, Rhabdoviridae, Astroviridae, Flaviridae, Coronaviridae, Picornaviridae, and Parvovirinae; insect viruses included those of the Baculoviridae, Iflaviridae, Dicistroviridae, Tetraviridae, and Densovirinae; fungal viruses included those of the Chrysoviridae, Hypoviridae, Partitiviridae, and Totiviridae; and phages included those of the Caudovirales, Inoviridae, and Microviridae and unclassified phages. In addition to the viruses and phages associated with the insects, plants, and bacterial flora related to the diet and habitation of bats, we identified the complete or partial genome sequences of 13 novel mammalian viruses. These included herpesviruses, papillomaviruses, a circovirus, a bocavirus, picornaviruses, a pestivirus, and a foamy virus. Pairwise alignments and phylogenetic analyses indicated that these novel viruses showed little genetic similarity with previously reported viruses. This study also revealed a high prevalence and diversity of bat astroviruses and coronaviruses in some provinces. These findings have expanded our understanding of the viromes of bats in China and hinted at the presence of a large variety of unknown mammalian viruses in many common bat species of mainland China.
Many plant and animal viruses are spread by insect vectors. Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) is aphid-transmitted, with the virus being taken up from specialized transmission bodies (TB) formed within infected plant cells. However, the precise events during TB-mediated virus acquisition by aphids are unknown. Here, we show that TBs react instantly to the presence of the vector by ultra-rapid and reversible redistribution of their key components onto microtubules throughout the cell. Enhancing or inhibiting this TB reaction pharmacologically or by using a mutant virus enhanced or inhibited transmission, respectively, confirming its requirement for efficient virus-acquisition. Our results suggest that CaMV can perceive aphid vectors, either directly or indirectly by sharing the host perception. This novel concept in virology, where viruses respond directly or via the host to the outside world, opens new research horizons, that is, investigating the impact of ‘perceptive behaviors’ on other steps of the infection cycle.
Viruses are infectious agents that can replicate only inside a living host cell. When a virus infects an animal or plant, it introduces its own genetic material and tricks the host cells into producing viral proteins that can be used to assemble new viruses. An essential step in the life cycle of any virus is transmission to a new host: understanding this process can be crucial in the fight against viral epidemics.
Many viruses use living organisms, or vectors, to move between hosts. In the case of plant viruses such as cauliflower mosaic virus, the vectors are often aphids. When an aphid sucks sap out of a leaf, virus particles already present in the leaf become attached to its mouth, and these viruses can be transferred to the next plant that the insect feeds on. However, in order for cauliflower mosaic virus particles to become attached to the aphid, structures called transmission bodies must form beforehand in the infected plant cells. These structures are known to contain helper proteins that bind the viruses to the mouth of the aphid, but the precise role of the transmission body has remained obscure.
Now Martinière et al. show that the transmission body is in fact a dynamic structure that reacts to the presence of aphids and, in so doing, boosts the efficiency of viral transmission. In particular, they show that the action of an aphid feeding on an infected leaf triggers a rapid and massive influx of a protein called tubulin into the transmission body. The transmission body then bursts open, dispersing helper protein-virus particle complexes throughout the cell, where they become more accessible to aphids. This series of events increases viral transmission rates twofold to threefold.
The results show that a virus can detect insect vectors, likely by using the sensory system of its host, and trigger a response that boosts viral uptake and thus transmission. This is a novel concept in virology. It will be important to discover whether similar mechanisms are used by other viruses, including those that infect animals and humans.
aphids; transmission; cell–virus–vector interactions; Arabidopsis; Viruses; Other
The sequences of 50 RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RDRPs) from 43 positive strand and 7 double strand RNA (dsRNA) viruses have been compared. The alignment permitted calculation of distances among the 50 viruses and a resultant dendrogram based on every amino acid, rather than just those amino acids in the conserved motifs. Remarkably, a large subgroup of these viruses, including vertebrate, plant, and insect viruses, forms a single cluster whose only common characteristic is exploitation of insect hosts or vectors. This similarity may be due to molecular constraints associated with a present and/or past ability to infect insects and/or to common descent from insect viruses. If common descent is important, as it appears to be, all the positive strand RNA viruses of eucaryotes except for the picornaviruses may have evolved from an ancestral dsRNA virus. Viral RDRPs appear to be inherited as modules rather than as portions of single RNA segments, implying that RNA recombination has played an important role in their dissemination.
The genomes of numerous circoviruses and distantly related circular DNA viruses encoding a rolling circle replication initiator protein (Rep) have been characterized from the tissues of mammals, fish, insects, and plants (geminivirus and nanovirus), human and animal feces, in an algae cell, and in diverse environmental samples. We review the genome organization, phylogenetic relationships and initial prevalence studies of cycloviruses, a proposed new genus in the Circoviridae family. Viral fossil rep sequences were also identified integrated on the chromosomes of mammals, frogs, lancelets, crustaceans, mites, gastropods, roundworms, placozoans, hydrozoans, protozoans, land plants, fungi, algae, and phytoplasma bacterias and their plasmids, reflecting their past host range. An ancient origin for viruses with rep-encoding single stranded small circular genomes, predating the diversification of eukaryotes, is discussed. The cellular hosts and pathogenicity of many recently described rep-containing circular genomes remain to be determined. Future studies of the virome of single cell and multi-cellular eukaryotes are likely to further extend the known diversity and host-range of small rep-containing circular viral genomes.
circovirus; cyclovirus; Circoviridae; Rep protein; deep sequencing; circular ssDNA genome
Small RNA-mediated gene silencing plays evolutionarily conserved roles in gene regulation and defense against invasive nucleic acids. Virus-derived small interfering RNAs (vsiRNAs) are one of the key elements involved in RNA silencing-based antiviral activities in plant and insect. vsiRNAs produced after viruses infecting hosts from a single kingdom (i.e., plant or animal) are well described. In contrast, vsiRNAs derived from viruses capable of infecting both plants and their insect vectors have not been characterized.
We examined Rice stripe virus (RSV)-derived small interfering RNAs in three different hosts, Oryza sativa, Nicotiana benthamiana and a natural RSV transmitting vector Laodelphgax striatellus, through deep sequencing. Our results show that large amounts of vsiRNAs generated in these hosts after RSV infection. The vsiRNAs from N. benthamiana and L. striatellus mapped equally to the genomic- and antigenomic-strand of RSV RNAs. They showed, however, a significant bias in those from O. sativa. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that the number and size distributions of vsiRNAs in the three hosts were very different. In O. sativa and N. benthamiana, most vsiRNAs were mapped to the discrete regions in the RSV genome sequence, and most of the vsiRNAs from these two hosts were generated from RSV genomic RNAs 3 and 4. In contrast, the vsiRNAs identified in L. striatellus distributed uniformly along the whole genome of RSV. We have also shown that silencing Agronaute 2 in L. striatellus enhanced RSV accumulation in this host.
Our study demonstrates that the core RNA-induced gene silencing (RNAi) machinery is present in L. striatellus. We also provide evidence that the RNAi-mediated immunity against RSV is present in L. striatellus. We propose that a common small RNA-mediated virus defense mechanism exists in both helipterum insects and plants, but the vsiRNAs are generated differentially in different hosts.
The bovine rumen hosts a diverse and complex community of Eukarya, Bacteria, Archea and viruses (including bacteriophage). The rumen viral population (the rumen virome) has received little attention compared to the rumen microbial population (the rumen microbiome). We used massively parallel sequencing of virus like particles to investigate the diversity of the rumen virome in thirteen lactating Australian Holstein dairy cattle all housed in the same location, 12 of which were sampled on the same day.
Fourteen putative viral sequence fragments over 30 Kbp in length were assembled and annotated. Many of the putative genes in the assembled contigs showed no homology to previously annotated genes, highlighting the large amount of work still required to fully annotate the functions encoded in viral genomes. The abundance of the contig sequences varied widely between animals, even though the cattle were of the same age, stage of lactation and fed the same diets. Additionally the twelve animals which were co-habited shared a number of their dominant viral contigs. We compared the functional characteristics of our bovine viromes with that of other viromes, as well as rumen microbiomes. At the functional level, we found strong similarities between all of the viral samples, which were highly distinct from the rumen microbiome samples.
Our findings suggest a large amount of between animal variation in the bovine rumen virome and that co-habiting animals may have more similar viromes than non co-habited animals. We report the deepest sequencing to date of the rumen virome. This work highlights the enormous amount of novelty and variation present in the rumen virome.
Virome; Rumen; Bacteriophage; Metagenomics
Icosahedral nontailed double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) viruses are present in all three domains of life, leading to speculation about a common viral ancestor that predates the divergence of Eukarya, Bacteria, and Archaea. This suggestion is supported by the shared general architecture of this group of viruses and the common fold of their major capsid protein. However, limited information on the diversity and replication of archaeal viruses, in general, has hampered further analysis. Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral virus (STIV), isolated from a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park, was the first icosahedral virus with an archaeal host to be described. Here we present a detailed characterization of the components forming this unusual virus. Using a proteomics-based approach, we identified nine viral and two host proteins from purified STIV particles. Interestingly, one of the viral proteins originates from a reading frame lacking a consensus start site. The major capsid protein (B345) was found to be glycosylated, implying a strong similarity to proteins from other dsDNA viruses. Sequence analysis and structural predication of virion-associated viral proteins suggest that they may have roles in DNA packaging, penton formation, and protein-protein interaction. The presence of an internal lipid layer containing acidic tetraether lipids has also been confirmed. The previously presented structural models in conjunction with the protein, lipid, and carbohydrate information reported here reveal that STIV is strikingly similar to viruses associated with the Bacteria and Eukarya domains of life, further strengthening the hypothesis for a common ancestor of this group of dsDNA viruses from all domains of life.
Herpesviruses, a family of animal viruses with large (125 – 250 kbp) linear DNA genomes, are highly diversified in terms of host range; nevertheless, their virions conform to a common architecture. The genome is confined at high density within a thick-walled icosahedral capsid with the uncommon (among viruses, generally) but unvarying triangulation number T=16. The envelope is a membrane in which some 11 different viral glycoproteins are implanted. Between the capsid and the envelope is a capacious compartment called the tegument that accommodates ~ 20 – 40 different viral proteins (depending on which virus) destined for delivery into a host cell. A strong body of evidence supports the hypothesis that herpesvirus capsids and those of tailed bacteriophages stem from a distant common ancestor, whereas their radically different infection apparatuses - envelope on one hand and tail on the other - reflect subsequent co-evolution with divergent hosts. Here we review the molecular components of herpesvirus capsids and the mechanisms that regulate their assembly, with particular reference to the archetypal alphaherpesvirus, herpes simplex virus type 1; assess their duality with the capsids of tailed bacteriophages; and discuss the mechanism whereby, once DNA packaging has been completed, herpesvirus nucleocapsids exit from the nucleus to embark on later stages of the replication cycle.
herpesvirus; herpes simplex virus type 1; tailed bacteriophage; tegument; nuclear exit; cryo-electron microscopy
Evolution of exon-intron structure of eukaryotic genes has been a matter of long-standing, intensive debate. The introns-early concept, later rebranded ‘introns first’ held that protein-coding genes were interrupted by numerous introns even at the earliest stages of life's evolution and that introns played a major role in the origin of proteins by facilitating recombination of sequences coding for small protein/peptide modules. The introns-late concept held that introns emerged only in eukaryotes and new introns have been accumulating continuously throughout eukaryotic evolution. Analysis of orthologous genes from completely sequenced eukaryotic genomes revealed numerous shared intron positions in orthologous genes from animals and plants and even between animals, plants and protists, suggesting that many ancestral introns have persisted since the last eukaryotic common ancestor (LECA). Reconstructions of intron gain and loss using the growing collection of genomes of diverse eukaryotes and increasingly advanced probabilistic models convincingly show that the LECA and the ancestors of each eukaryotic supergroup had intron-rich genes, with intron densities comparable to those in the most intron-rich modern genomes such as those of vertebrates. The subsequent evolution in most lineages of eukaryotes involved primarily loss of introns, with only a few episodes of substantial intron gain that might have accompanied major evolutionary innovations such as the origin of metazoa. The original invasion of self-splicing Group II introns, presumably originating from the mitochondrial endosymbiont, into the genome of the emerging eukaryote might have been a key factor of eukaryogenesis that in particular triggered the origin of endomembranes and the nucleus. Conversely, splicing errors gave rise to alternative splicing, a major contribution to the biological complexity of multicellular eukaryotes. There is no indication that any prokaryote has ever possessed a spliceosome or introns in protein-coding genes, other than relatively rare mobile self-splicing introns. Thus, the introns-first scenario is not supported by any evidence but exon-intron structure of protein-coding genes appears to have evolved concomitantly with the eukaryotic cell, and introns were a major factor of evolution throughout the history of eukaryotes. This article was reviewed by I. King Jordan, Manuel Irimia (nominated by Anthony Poole), Tobias Mourier (nominated by Anthony Poole), and Fyodor Kondrashov. For the complete reports, see the Reviewers’ Reports section.
Intron sliding; Intron gain; Intron loss; Spliceosome; Splicing signals; Evolution of exon/intron structure; Alternative splicing; Phylogenetic trees; Mobile domains; Eukaryotic ancestor
A majority of the plant-infecting viruses and many of the animal-infecting viruses are dependent upon arthropod vectors for transmission between hosts and/or as alternative hosts. The viruses have evolved specific associations with their vectors, and we are beginning to understand the underlying mechanisms that regulate the virus transmission process. A majority of plant viruses are carried on the cuticle lining of a vector’s mouthparts or foregut. This initially appeared to be simple mechanical contamination, but it is now known to be a biologically complex interaction between specific virus proteins and as yet unidentified vector cuticle-associated compounds. Numerous other plant viruses and the majority of animal viruses are carried within the body of the vector. These viruses have evolved specific mechanisms to enable them to be transported through multiple tissues and to evade vector defenses. In response, vector species have evolved so that not all individuals within a species are susceptible to virus infection or can serve as a competent vector. Not only are the virus components of the transmission process being identified, but also the genetic and physiological components of the vectors which determine their ability to be used successfully by the virus are being elucidated. The mechanisms of arthropod-virus associations are many and complex, but common themes are beginning to emerge which may allow the development of novel strategies to ultimately control epidemics caused by arthropod-borne viruses.
The evolution of sex remains a hotly debated topic in evolutionary biology. In particular, studying the origins of the molecular mechanisms underlying sexual reproduction and gametogenesis (its fundamental component) in multicellular eukaryotes has been difficult due to the rapid divergence of many reproductive proteins, pleiotropy, and by the fact that only a very small number of reproductive proteins specifically involved in reproduction are conserved across lineages. Consequently, during the last decade, many efforts have been put into answering the following question: did gametogenesis evolve independently in different animal lineages or does it share a common evolutionary origin in a single ancestral prototype? Among the various approaches carried out in order to solve this question, the characterization of the evolution of the DAZ gene family holds much promise because these genes encode reproductive proteins that are conserved across a wide range of animal phyla. Within this family, BOULE is of special interest because it represents the most ancestral member of this gene family (the “grandfather” of DAZ). Furthermore, BOULE has attracted most of the attention since it represents an ancient male gametogenic factor with an essential reproductive-exclusive requirement in urbilaterians, constituting a core component of the reproductive prototype. Within this context, the aim of the present work is to provide an up-to-date insight into the studies that lead to the characterization of the DAZ family members and the implications in helping decipher the evolutionary origin of gametogenesis in metazoan animals.
The residence of dinoflagellate algae (genus: Symbiodinium) within scleractinian corals is critical to the construction and persistence of tropical reefs. In recent decades, however, acute and chronic environmental stressors have frequently destabilized this symbiosis, ultimately leading to coral mortality and reef decline. Viral infection has been suggested as a trigger of coral–Symbiodinium dissociation; knowledge of the diversity and hosts of coral-associated viruses is critical to evaluating this hypothesis. Here, we present the first genomic evidence of viruses associated with Symbiodinium, based on the presence of transcribed +ss (single-stranded) RNA and ds (double-stranded) DNA virus-like genes in complementary DNA viromes of the coral Montastraea cavernosa and expressed sequence tag (EST) libraries generated from Symbiodinium cultures. The M. cavernosa viromes contained divergent viral sequences similar to the major capsid protein of the dinoflagellate-infecting +ssRNA Heterocapsa circularisquama virus, suggesting a highly novel dinornavirus could infect Symbiodinium. Further, similarities to dsDNA viruses dominated (∼69%) eukaryotic viral similarities in the M. cavernosa viromes. Transcripts highly similar to eukaryotic algae-infecting phycodnaviruses were identified in the viromes, and homologs to these sequences were found in two independently generated Symbiodinium EST libraries. Phylogenetic reconstructions substantiate that these transcripts are undescribed and distinct members of the nucleocytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDVs) group. Based on a preponderance of evidence, we infer that the novel NCLDVs and RNA virus described here are associated with the algal endosymbionts of corals. If such viruses disrupt Symbiodinium, they are likely to impact the flexibility and/or stability of coral–algal symbioses, and thus long-term reef health and resilience.
coral reef; Heterocapsa circularisquama RNA virus (HcRNAV); nuclear cytoplasmic large DNA virus (NCLDV); Phycodnaviridae; Symbiodinium; virome
The majority of plant viruses rely on insect vectors for transmission. Insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts are the most common and efficient vectors because, they are able to inject viruses into specific plant tissues. Acquisition and inoculation of viruses occurs during specific vector feeding behaviors, and feeding behavior varies greatly among insects with piercing-sucking mouthparts. In this review we provide an overview of the feeding behavior of the major insect vectors with piercing sucking mouthparts: aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs, hoppers, and thrips. We briefly review the different mechanisms of plant virus transmission by these insects, and discuss how each mechanism requires a vector that engages in specific feeding behaviors, and how differences in feeding behavior among these insects can determine which viruses they are capable of transmitting. We also discuss recent findings indicating that plant viruses can directly modify their vector's behavior in a way that enhances transmission to a host plant.
electrical penetration graph; feeding behavior; vector; virus acquisition; virus inoculation
Endogenous derivatives of non-retroviral RNA viruses are thought to be absent or rare in eukaryotic genomes because integration of RNA viruses in host genomes is impossible without reverse transcription. However, such derivatives have been proposed for animals, plants and fungi, often based on surrogate bioinformatic evidence. At present, there is little known of the evolution and function of integrated non-retroviral RNA virus genes. Here, we provide direct evidence of integration by sequencing across host-virus gene boundaries and carry out phylogenetic analyses of fungal hosts and totivirids (dsRNA viruses of fungi and protozoans). Further, we examine functionality by tests of neutral evolution, comparison of residues that are necessary for viral capsid functioning and assays for transcripts, dsRNA and viral particles.
Sequencing evidence from gene boundaries was consistent with integration. We detected previously unknown integrated Totivirus-like sequences in three fungi (Candida parapsilosis, Penicillium marneffei and Uromyces appendiculatus). The phylogenetic evidence strongly indicated that the direction of transfer was from Totivirus to fungus. However, there was evidence of transfer of Totivirus-like sequences among fungi. Tests of selection indicated that integrated genes are maintained by purifying selection. Transcripts were apparent for some gene copies, but, in most cases, the endogenous sequences lacked the residues necessary for normal viral functioning.
Our findings reveal that horizontal gene transfer can result in novel gene formation in eukaryotes despite miniaturized genomic targets and a need for co-option of reverse transcriptase.
In a recent BMC Evolutionary Biology article, Huiquan Liu and colleagues report two new genomes of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses from fungi and use these as a springboard to perform an extensive phylogenomic analysis of dsRNA viruses. The results support the old scenario of polyphyletic origin of dsRNA viruses from different groups of positive-strand RNA viruses and additionally reveal extensive horizontal gene transfer between diverse viruses consistent with the network-like rather than tree-like mode of viral evolution. Together with the unexpected discoveries of the first putative archaeal RNA virus and a RNA-DNA virus hybrid, this work shows that RNA viral genomics has major surprises to deliver.
See research article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/12/91
Alternative splicing has been reported in various eukaryotic groups including plants, apicomplexans, diatoms, amoebae, animals and fungi. However, whether widespread alternative splicing has evolved independently in the different eukaryotic groups or was inherited from their last common ancestor, and may therefore predate multicellularity, is still unknown. To better understand the origin and evolution of alternative splicing and its usage in diverse organisms, we studied alternative splicing in 12 eukaryotic species, comparing rates of alternative splicing across genes of different functional classes, cellular locations, intron/exon structures and evolutionary origins.
For each species, we find that genes from most functional categories are alternatively spliced. Ancient genes (shared between animals, fungi and plants) show high levels of alternative splicing. Genes with products expressed in the nucleus or plasma membrane are generally more alternatively spliced while those expressed in extracellular location show less alternative splicing. We find a clear correspondence between incidence of alternative splicing and intron number per gene both within and between genomes. In general, we find several similarities in patterns of alternative splicing across these diverse eukaryotes.
Along with previous studies indicating intron-rich genes with weak intron boundary consensus and complex spliceosomes in ancestral organisms, our results suggest that at least a simple form of alternative splicing may already have been present in the unicellular ancestor of plants, fungi and animals. A role for alternative splicing in the evolution of multicellularity then would largely have arisen by co-opting the preexisting process.
Several phytoplasmas, wall-less phloem limited plant pathogenic bacteria, have been shown to contain extrachromosomal DNA (EcDNA) molecules encoding a replication associated protein (Rep) similar to that of geminiviruses, a major group of single stranded (ss) DNA plant viruses. On the basis of that observation and of structural similarities between the capsid proteins of geminiviruses and the Satellite tobacco necrosis virus, it has been recently proposed that geminiviruses evolved from phytoplasmal EcDNAs by acquiring a capsid protein coding gene from a co-invading plant RNA virus.
Here we show that this hypothesis has to be rejected because (i) the EcDNA encoded Rep is not of phytoplasmal origin but has been acquired by phytoplasmas through horizontal transfer from a geminivirus or its ancestor; and (ii) the evolution of geminivirus capsid protein in land plants implies missing links, while the analysis of metagenomic data suggests an alternative scenario implying a more ancient evolution in marine environments.
The hypothesis of geminiviruses evolving in plants from DNA molecules of phytoplasma origin contrasts with other findings. An alternative scenario concerning the origin and spread of Rep coding phytoplasmal EcDNA is presented and its implications on the epidemiology of phytoplasmas are discussed.
Selecting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) sequences for inclusion within vaccines has been a difficult problem, as circulating HIV strains evolve relentlessly and become increasingly divergent over time. We report an assessment of this divergence from three perspectives: (i) across different hosts as a function of time of infection, (ii) between donors and recipients in known transmission pairs, and (iii) within individual hosts over time in relation to the initially replicating virus and to the deduced ancestral sequence of the intrahost viral population. Surprisingly, we consistently found less divergence between viruses from different individuals sampled in primary infection than in individuals sampled at more advanced stages of illness. Furthermore, longitudinal analysis of intrahost divergence revealed a 2- to 3-year period of evolution toward a common ancestral sequence at the start of infection, indicating that HIV recovers certain ancestral features when infecting a new host. These results have important implications for the study of HIV population genetics and rational vaccine design, including favoring the inclusion of viral gene sequences taken early in infection.
The vast majority of well-characterized eukaryotic viruses are those that cause acute or chronic infections in humans and domestic plants and animals. However, asymptomatic persistent viruses have been described in animals, and are thought to be sources for emerging acute viruses. Although not previously described in these terms, there are also many viruses of plants that maintain a persistent lifestyle. They have been largely ignored because they do not generally cause disease. The persistent viruses in plants belong to the family Partitiviridae or the genus Endornavirus. These groups also have members that infect fungi. Phylogenetic analysis of the partitivirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase genes suggests that these viruses have been transmitted between plants and fungi. Additional families of viruses traditionally thought to be fungal viruses are also found frequently in plants, and may represent a similar scenario of persistent lifestyles, and some acute or chronic viruses of crop plants may maintain a persistent lifestyle in wild plants. Persistent, chronic and acute lifestyles of plant viruses are contrasted from both a functional and evolutionary perspective, and the potential role of these lifestyles in host evolution is discussed.
persistent viruses; acute viruses; fungal viruses; virus ecology
Novel DNA sequencing techniques, referred to as “next-generation” sequencing (NGS), provide high speed and throughput that can produce an enormous volume of sequences with many possible applications in research and diagnostic settings. In this article, we provide an overview of the many applications of NGS in diagnostic virology. NGS techniques have been used for high-throughput whole viral genome sequencing, such as sequencing of new influenza viruses, for detection of viral genome variability and evolution within the host, such as investigation of human immunodeficiency virus and human hepatitis C virus quasispecies, and monitoring of low-abundance antiviral drug-resistance mutations. NGS techniques have been applied to metagenomics-based strategies for the detection of unexpected disease-associated viruses and for the discovery of novel human viruses, including cancer-related viruses. Finally, the human virome in healthy and disease conditions has been described by NGS-based metagenomics.
next generation sequencing; deep sequencing; virus discovery; metagenomics; virome; virology; quasispecies; molecular diagnosis; human immunodeficiency virus; drug resistance; minority variants
WRKY proteins are newly identified transcription factors involved in many plant processes including plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. To date, genes encoding WRKY proteins have been identified only from plants. Comprehensive search for WRKY genes in non-plant organisms and phylogenetic analysis would provide invaluable information about the origin and expansion of the WRKY family.
We searched all publicly available sequence data for WRKY genes. A single copy of the WRKY gene encoding two WRKY domains was identified from Giardia lamblia, a primitive eukaryote, Dictyostelium discoideum, a slime mold closely related to the lineage of animals and fungi, and the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, an early branching of plants. This ancestral WRKY gene seems to have duplicated many times during the evolution of plants, resulting in a large family in evolutionarily advanced flowering plants. In rice, the WRKY gene family consists of over 100 members. Analyses suggest that the C-terminal domain of the two-WRKY-domain encoding gene appears to be the ancestor of the single-WRKY-domain encoding genes, and that the WRKY domains may be phylogenetically classified into five groups. We propose a model to explain the WRKY family's origin in eukaryotes and expansion in plants.
WRKY genes seem to have originated in early eukaryotes and greatly expanded in plants. The elucidation of the evolution and duplicative expansion of the WRKY genes should provide valuable information on their functions.