Description of viral assemblages associated with the Gorgonia ventalina holobiont
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Hewson, I., Brown, J.M., Burge, C.A. et al. Coral Reefs (2012) 31: 487. doi:10.1007/s00338-011-0864-x
The diversity and function of viruses in coral holobionts has only recently received attention. The non-reef building gorgonian octocoral, Gorgonia ventalina, is a major constituent of Caribbean reefs. We investigated viral communities associated with G. ventalina tissues to understand their role in gorgonian ecology. Pyrosequencing was used to prepare a total of 514,632 sequence reads of DNA- and RNA-based mixed-community viral genomes (metaviromes). RNA viral assemblages were comprised of primarily unidentifiable reads, with most matching host transcripts and other RNA metaviromes. DNA metaviromes were similar between healthy and diseased tissues and comprised of contiguous sequences (contigs) that matched primarily metazoan and bacterial proteins. Only ~5% of contigs matched viral proteins that were primarily cyanophage and viruses of Chlorella and Ostreococcus. Our results confirm that DNA and RNA viruses comprise a component of the gorgonian holobiont, suggesting that they may play a role in the ecology of G. ventalina.