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PLOS ONE  2012 

A Bacteriophage-Related Chimeric Marine Virus Infecting Abalone

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013850

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Marine viruses shape microbial communities with the most genetic diversity in the sea by multiple genetic exchanges and infect multiple marine organisms. Here we provide proof from experimental infection that abalone shriveling syndrome-associated virus (AbSV) can cause abalone shriveling syndrome. This malady produces histological necrosis and abnormally modified macromolecules (hemocyanin and ferritin). The AbSV genome is a 34.952-kilobase circular double-stranded DNA, containing putative genes with similarity to bacteriophages, eukaryotic viruses, bacteria and endosymbionts. Of the 28 predicted open reading frames (ORFs), eight ORF-encoded proteins have identifiable functional homologues. The 4 ORF products correspond to a predicted terminase large subunit and an endonuclease in bacteriophage, and both an integrase and an exonuclease from bacteria. The other four proteins are homologous to an endosymbiont-derived helicase, primase, single-stranded binding (SSB) protein, and thymidylate kinase, individually. Additionally, AbSV exhibits a common gene arrangement similar to the majority of bacteriophages. Unique to AbSV, the viral genome also contains genes associated with bacterial outer membrane proteins and may lack the structural protein-encoding ORFs. Genomic characterization of AbSV indicates that it may represent a transitional form of microbial evolution from viruses to bacteria.


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