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1.  Combining genomic sequencing methods to explore viral diversity and reveal potential virus-host interactions 
Viral diversity and virus-host interactions in oxygen-starved regions of the ocean, also known as oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), remain relatively unexplored. Microbial community metabolism in OMZs alters nutrient and energy flow through marine food webs, resulting in biological nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas production. Thus, viruses infecting OMZ microbes have the potential to modulate community metabolism with resulting feedback on ecosystem function. Here, we describe viral communities inhabiting oxic surface (10 m) and oxygen-starved basin (200 m) waters of Saanich Inlet, a seasonally anoxic fjord on the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia using viral metagenomics and complete viral fosmid sequencing on samples collected between April 2007 and April 2010. Of 6459 open reading frames (ORFs) predicted across all 34 viral fosmids, 77.6% (n = 5010) had no homology to reference viral genomes. These fosmids recruited a higher proportion of viral metagenomic sequences from Saanich Inlet than from nearby northeastern subarctic Pacific Ocean (Line P) waters, indicating differences in the viral communities between coastal and open ocean locations. While functional annotations of fosmid ORFs were limited, recruitment to NCBI's non-redundant “nr” database and publicly available single-cell genomes identified putative viruses infecting marine thaumarchaeal and SUP05 proteobacteria to provide potential host linkages with relevance to coupled biogeochemical cycling processes in OMZ waters. Taken together, these results highlight the power of coupled analyses of multiple sequence data types, such as viral metagenomic and fosmid sequence data with prokaryotic single cell genomes, to chart viral diversity, elucidate genomic and ecological contexts for previously unclassifiable viral sequences, and identify novel host interactions in natural and engineered ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC4392320  PMID: 25914678
microbial ecology; marine virus; metagenomics; fosmids; virome; reference genome; single cell genomics
2.  Top-down controls on bacterial community structure: microbial network analysis of bacteria, T4-like viruses and protists 
The ISME Journal  2013;8(4):816-829.
Characterizing ecological relationships between viruses, bacteria and protists in the ocean are critical to understanding ecosystem function, yet these relationships are infrequently investigated together. We evaluated these relationships through microbial association network analysis of samples collected approximately monthly from March 2008 to January 2011 in the surface ocean (0–5 m) at the San Pedro Ocean Time series station. Bacterial, T4-like myoviral and protistan communities were described by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism of the gene encoding the major capsid protein (g23) and 18S ribosomal DNA, respectively. Concurrent shifts in community structure suggested similar timing of responses to environmental and biological parameters. We linked T4-like myoviral, bacterial and protistan operational taxonomic units by local similarity correlations, which were then visualized as association networks. Network links (correlations) potentially represent synergistic and antagonistic relationships such as viral lysis, grazing, competition or other interactions. We found that virus–bacteria relationships were more cross-linked than protist–bacteria relationships, suggestive of increased taxonomic specificity in virus–bacteria relationships. We also found that 80% of bacterial–protist and 74% of bacterial–viral correlations were positive, with the latter suggesting that at monthly and seasonal timescales, viruses may be following their hosts more often than controlling host abundance.
PMCID: PMC3960540  PMID: 24196323
microbial network; top-down controls; virus–host interaction; grazing; microbial ecology
3.  Temporal variability and coherence of euphotic zone bacterial communities over a decade in the Southern California Bight 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(12):2259-2273.
Time-series are critical to understanding long-term natural variability in the oceans. Bacterial communities in the euphotic zone were investigated for over a decade at the San Pedro Ocean Time-series station (SPOT) off southern California. Community composition was assessed by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis (ARISA) and coupled with measurements of oceanographic parameters for the surface ocean (0–5 m) and deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM, average depth ∼30 m). SAR11 and cyanobacterial ecotypes comprised typically more than one-third of the measured community; diversity within both was temporally variable, although a few operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were consistently more abundant. Persistent OTUs, mostly Alphaproteobacteria (SAR11 clade), Actinobacteria and Flavobacteria, tended to be abundant, in contrast to many rarer yet intermittent and ephemeral OTUs. Association networks revealed potential niches for key OTUs from SAR11, cyanobacteria, SAR86 and other common clades on the basis of robust correlations. Resilience was evident by the average communities drifting only slightly as years passed. Average Bray-Curtis similarity between any pair of dates was ∼40%, with a slight decrease over the decade and obvious near-surface seasonality; communities 8–10 years apart were slightly more different than those 1–4 years apart with the highest rate of change at 0–5 m between communities <4 years apart. The surface exhibited more pronounced seasonality than the DCM. Inter-depth Bray-Curtis similarities repeatedly decreased as the water column stratified each summer. Environmental factors were better predictors of shifts in community composition than months or elapsed time alone; yet, the best predictor was community composition at the other depth (that is, 0–5 m versus DCM).
PMCID: PMC3834854  PMID: 23864126
marine bacterioplankton; ARISA; community ecology; microbe–microbe interactions; time series
4.  Short-term observations of marine bacterial and viral communities: patterns, connections and resilience 
The ISME Journal  2013;7(7):1274-1285.
Observation of short-term temporal variation in bacterial and viral communities is important for understanding patterns of aquatic microbial diversity. We collected surface seawater once daily for 38 consecutive days with seven more samples interspersed over 40 more days at one location ∼2 km from Santa Catalina Island, California. Bacterial communities were analyzed by automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analysis (ARISA) and viral communities were analyzed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) of the conserved T4-like myoviral gene encoding the major capsid protein (g23). Common bacterial and viral taxa were consistently dominant, and relatively few displayed dramatic increases/decreases or ‘boom/bust' patterns that might be expected from dynamic predator-prey interactions. Association network analysis showed most significant covariations (associations) occurred among bacterial taxa or among viral taxa and there were several modular (highly-interconnected) associations (P⩽0.005). Associations observed between bacteria and viruses (P⩽0.005) occurred with a median time lag of 2 days. Regression of all pairwise Bray-Curtis similarities between samples indicated a rate of bacterial community change that slows from 2.1%–0.18% per day over a week to 2 months; the rate stays around 0.4% per day for viruses. Our interpretation is that, over the scale of days, individual bacterial and viral OTUs can be dynamic and patterned; resulting in statistical associations regarded as potential ecological interactions. However, over the scale of weeks, average bacterial community variation is slower, suggesting that there is strong community-level ecological resilience, that is, a tendency to converge towards a ‘mean' microbial community set by longer-term controlling factors.
PMCID: PMC3695287  PMID: 23446831
ARISA; bacteria; marine; T4-like myovirus; network; time-series
5.  Marine bacterial, archaeal and protistan association networks reveal ecological linkages 
The ISME Journal  2011;5(9):1414-1425.
Microbes have central roles in ocean food webs and global biogeochemical processes, yet specific ecological relationships among these taxa are largely unknown. This is in part due to the dilute, microscopic nature of the planktonic microbial community, which prevents direct observation of their interactions. Here, we use a holistic (that is, microbial system-wide) approach to investigate time-dependent variations among taxa from all three domains of life in a marine microbial community. We investigated the community composition of bacteria, archaea and protists through cultivation-independent methods, along with total bacterial and viral abundance, and physico-chemical observations. Samples and observations were collected monthly over 3 years at a well-described ocean time-series site of southern California. To find associations among these organisms, we calculated time-dependent rank correlations (that is, local similarity correlations) among relative abundances of bacteria, archaea, protists, total abundance of bacteria and viruses and physico-chemical parameters. We used a network generated from these statistical correlations to visualize and identify time-dependent associations among ecologically important taxa, for example, the SAR11 cluster, stramenopiles, alveolates, cyanobacteria and ammonia-oxidizing archaea. Negative correlations, perhaps suggesting competition or predation, were also common. The analysis revealed a progression of microbial communities through time, and also a group of unknown eukaryotes that were highly correlated with dinoflagellates, indicating possible symbioses or parasitism. Possible ‘keystone' species were evident. The network has statistical features similar to previously described ecological networks, and in network parlance has non-random, small world properties (that is, highly interconnected nodes). This approach provides new insights into the natural history of microbes.
PMCID: PMC3160682  PMID: 21430787
co-occurrence patterns; stramenopiles; dinoflagellates; SAR11; cyanobacteria; time series
7.  Separating the post-Glacial coancestry of European and Asian Y chromosomes within haplogroup R1a 
Human Y-chromosome haplogroup structure is largely circumscribed by continental boundaries. One notable exception to this general pattern is the young haplogroup R1a that exhibits post-Glacial coalescent times and relates the paternal ancestry of more than 10% of men in a wide geographic area extending from South Asia to Central East Europe and South Siberia. Its origin and dispersal patterns are poorly understood as no marker has yet been described that would distinguish European R1a chromosomes from Asian. Here we present frequency and haplotype diversity estimates for more than 2000 R1a chromosomes assessed for several newly discovered SNP markers that introduce the onset of informative R1a subdivisions by geography. Marker M434 has a low frequency and a late origin in West Asia bearing witness to recent gene flow over the Arabian Sea. Conversely, marker M458 has a significant frequency in Europe, exceeding 30% in its core area in Eastern Europe and comprising up to 70% of all M17 chromosomes present there. The diversity and frequency profiles of M458 suggest its origin during the early Holocene and a subsequent expansion likely related to a number of prehistoric cultural developments in the region. Its primary frequency and diversity distribution correlates well with some of the major Central and East European river basins where settled farming was established before its spread further eastward. Importantly, the virtual absence of M458 chromosomes outside Europe speaks against substantial patrilineal gene flow from East Europe to Asia, including to India, at least since the mid-Holocene.
PMCID: PMC2987245  PMID: 19888303
Y chromosome; haplogroup R1a; human evolution; population genetics

Results 1-7 (7)