Morphotypes of virus-like particles in two hydrothermal vent fields on the East Scotia Ridge, Antarctica

first_imgViruses from extreme environments are still largely unexplored and may harbor unseen genetic potential. Here, we present a first glance at the morphological diversity of virus like particles (VLPs) from an environment that is extreme in more than one respect: two recently discovered hydrothermal vent fields on the East Scotia Ridge in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. They are the southernmost hydrothermal sites found to date and have been shown to present a new biogeographic province, containing several new macrofaunal species and associated microbial organisms. Transmission electron microscopy revealed a range of tailed and untailed VLPs of various morphologies as well as an unusual long rod-shaped VLP with three long filaments. Based on its distant similarity with several known archaeal viruses, we hypothesize that this presents a new viral morphology that most likely infects an archaeon. Notably absent in the samples we analyzed were lemon- or spindle-shaped VLPs that have previously been described in other hydrothermal vent settings.last_img

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