Coccolithovirus (Phycodnaviridae): Characterisation of a new large dsDNA algal virus that infects Emiliana huxleyi
Emiliania huxleyi-specific viruses (EhV) were isolated from E. huxleyi blooms off the coast of Plymouth, UK, in July 1999 and July/August 2001, and from an E. huxleyi bloom induced during a mesocosm experiment in a fjord off Bergen, Norway, during June 2000. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that all 10 virus isolates are 170–200 nm in diameter with an icosahedral symmetry. Their density is approximately 1.2 in CsCl gradients and they have large double stranded DNA genomes approximately 410 kb in size. Phylogenetic analysis of the DNA polymerase genes of these viruses suggests that EhV belongs to a new genus within the family of algal viruses, Phycodnaviridae. We propose to name this new virus genus Coccolithovirus. Differences within members of the Coccolithovirus were elucidated by host range analysis of the virus isolates and sequence analysis of a gene fragment encoding part of their putative major capsid protein. All 10 virus isolates within this new genus only infected E. huxleyi strains that have previously been shown to exhibit low dimethylsulphoniopropionate lyase (DMSP-lyase) activity (CCMP1516, CCMP374 and L), while E. huxleyi strains with high DMSP-lyase activity (CCMP373 and CCMP379) were resistant to infection.
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