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Viromes outperform total metagenomes in revealing the spatiotemporal patterns of agricultural soil viral communities.

  • Author(s): Santos-Medellin, Christian
  • Zinke, Laura A
  • Ter Horst, Anneliek M
  • Gelardi, Danielle L
  • Parikh, Sanjai J
  • Emerson, Joanne B
  • et al.
Abstract

Viruses are abundant yet understudied members of soil environments that influence terrestrial biogeochemical cycles. Here, we characterized the dsDNA viral diversity in biochar-amended agricultural soils at the preplanting and harvesting stages of a tomato growing season via paired total metagenomes and viral size fraction metagenomes (viromes). Size fractionation prior to DNA extraction reduced sources of nonviral DNA in viromes, enabling the recovery of a vaster richness of viral populations (vOTUs), greater viral taxonomic diversity, broader range of predicted hosts, and better access to the rare virosphere, relative to total metagenomes, which tended to recover only the most persistent and abundant vOTUs. Of 2961 detected vOTUs, 2684 were recovered exclusively from viromes, while only three were recovered from total metagenomes alone. Both viral and microbial communities differed significantly over time, suggesting a coupled response to rhizosphere recruitment processes and/or nitrogen amendments. Viral communities alone were also structured along an 18 m spatial gradient. Overall, our results highlight the utility of soil viromics and reveal similarities between viral and microbial community dynamics throughout the tomato growing season yet suggest a partial decoupling of the processes driving their spatial distributions, potentially due to differences in dispersal, decay rates, and/or sensitivities to soil heterogeneity.

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