Giant virus-related sequences in the 5300-year-old Ötzi mummy metagenome


Giant viruses have brought new perspectives on the virosphere. They have been increasingly described in humans, including in several metagenomic studies. Here, we searched into the metagenome of the 5300-year-old Ötzi mummy for the presence of giant virus-related sequences using MG-Digger pipeline. We found 19 reads (0.00006% of the total read number) that best matched (mean ± standard deviation (range) for e-values of 5.0E-6 ± 1.4E-6 (6.0E-5–4.0E-10) and for amino acid identity of 69.9 ± 8.7% (46.4–84.9%) and most significantly with sequences from various giant viruses, including mostly mimiviruses. This expands current knowledge on the ubiquity and relationship with humans of giant viruses.

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This work was supported by the French Government under the “Investments for the Future” program managed by the National Agency for Research (ANR), Méditerranée-Infection 10-IAHU-03 and was also supported by Région Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and European funding FEDER PRIMMI (Fonds Européen de Développement Régional - Plateformes de Recherche et d'Innovation Mutualisées Méditerranée Infection).

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Authors contribution

Conceived and designed the experiments: PC and BLS. Contributed materials/analysis tools: GAPS, CR, BN and PC. Analyzed the data: GAPS, CR, BN, BLS and PC Wrote the paper: GAPS and PC.

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Correspondence to Philippe Colson.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Funding sources had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

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Pires de Souza, G.A., Rolland, C., Nafeh, B. et al. Giant virus-related sequences in the 5300-year-old Ötzi mummy metagenome. Virus Genes 57, 222–227 (2021).

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  • Giant virus
  • Mimivirus
  • Metagenome
  • Mummy
  • Otzi