Co-existence of freshwater and marine T4-like myoviruses in a typical subtropical estuary

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Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on Earth and play an important role in microbial community dynamics and biogeochemical cycling, yet their ecological characteristics in estuarine ecosystems are unclear. Here, virioplankton communities in a typical subtropical estuary, the Jiulong River estuary (JRE) in China, were investigated. The abundance of virioplankton ranged from 1.01 ± 0.05 × 107 to 1.62 ± 0.09 × 107 particles mL−1 in JRE, and the population size of viruses was correlated with temperature and nutrient levels. Three tailed viral morphotypes (myovirus, siphovirus and podovirus) were observed. Phylogenetic analysis showed that most of the g23 sequences in the JRE fell into three previously established groups (Marine, Paddy and Lake Groups) and two potential Estuary Groups. This demonstrates the co-existence of typical freshwater and marine T4-like myoviruses in the estuarine ecosystem, suggesting the movement of viruses and their hosts among biomes. Additionally, the spatial variation of g23 sequences suggests a geographic distribution pattern of T4-like myoviruses in the JRE, which might be shaped by the environmental gradient and/or their host distribution. These results provide valuable insights into the abundance, diversity and distribution patterns of virioplankton, as well as the factors influencing them, in subtropical estuarine ecosystems.

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