Bacteriophages are widely considered to influence bacterial communities, however most phages are still unknown or not studied well enough to understand their ecological roles. We have isolated two phages infecting Lentibacter sp. SH36, affiliated with the marine Roseobacter group, and retrieved similar phage genomes from publicly available metagenomics databases. Phylogenetic analysis placed the new phages within the Cobavirus group, in the here newly proposed genus Siovirus and subfamily Riovirinae of the Podoviridae. Gene composition and presence of direct terminal repeats in cultivated cobaviruses point toward a genome replication and packaging strategy similar to the T7 phage. Investigation of the genomes suggests that viral lysis of the cell proceeds via the canonical holin-endolysin pathway. Cobaviral hosts include members of the genera Lentibacter, Sulfitobacter and Celeribacter of the Roseobacter group within the family Rhodobacteraceae (Alphaproteobacteria). Screening more than 5,000 marine metagenomes, we found cobaviruses worldwide from temperate to tropical waters, in the euphotic zone, mainly in bays and estuaries, but also in the open ocean. The presence of cobaviruses in protist metagenomes as well as the phylogenetic neighborhood of cobaviruses in glutaredoxin and ribonucleotide reductase trees suggest that cobaviruses could infect bacteria associated with phototrophic or grazing protists. With this study, we expand the understanding of the phylogeny, classification, genomic organization, biogeography and ecology of this phage group infecting marine Rhodobacteraceae.
Journal: The ISME journal