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Benchmarking protocols for the metagenomic analysis of stream biofilm viromes

By Meriem Bekliz, Jade Brandani, Massimo Bourquin, Tom J. Battin and Hannes Peter


Viruses drive microbial diversity, function and evolution and influence important biogeochemical cycles in aquatic ecosystems. Despite their relevance, we currently lack an understanding of their potential impacts on stream biofilm structure and function. This is surprising given the critical role of biofilms for stream ecosystem processes. Currently, the study of viruses in stream biofilms is hindered by the lack of an optimized protocol for their extraction, concentration and purification. Here, we evaluate a range of methods to separate viral particles from stream biofilms, and to concentrate and purify them prior to DNA extraction and metagenome sequencing. Based on epifluorescence microscopy counts of viral-like particles (VLP) and DNA yields, we optimize a protocol including treatment with tetrasodium pyrophosphate and ultra-sonication to disintegrate biofilms, tangential-flow filtration to extract and concentrate VLP, followed by ultracentrifugation in a sucrose density gradient to isolate VLP from the biofilm slurry. Viromes derived from biofilms sampled from three different streams were dominated by Siphoviridae, Myoviridae and Podoviridae and provide first insights into the viral diversity of stream biofilms. Our protocol optimization provides an important step towards a better understanding of the ecological role of viruses in stream biofilms

Publisher: 'PeerJ'
Year: 2020
DOI identifier: 10.7717/peerj.8187
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