Metagenomic stable isotope probing reveals bacteriophage participation in soil carbon cycling

Metagenomic stable isotope probing reveals bacteriophage participation in soil carbon cycling

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Barnett, S. E., & Buckley, D. H. (2023). Metagenomic stable isotope probing reveals bacteriophage participation in soil carbon cycling. Environmental Microbiology, 25(10), 1785–1795. https://doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.16395

Abstract

Soil viruses are important components of the carbon (C) cycle, yet we still know little about viral ecology in soils. We added diverse 13C-labelled carbon sources to soil and we used metagenomic-SIP to detect 13C assimilation by viruses and their putative bacterial hosts. These data allowed us to link a 13C-labelled bacteriophage to its 13C-labelled Streptomyces putative host, and we used qPCR to track the dynamics of the putative host and phage in response to C inputs. Following C addition, putative host numbers increased rapidly for 3 days, and then more gradually, reaching maximal abundance on Day 6. Viral abundance and virus:host ratio increased dramatically over 6 days, and remained high thereafter (8.42 ± 2.94). From Days 6 to 30, virus:host ratio remained high, while putative host numbers declined more than 50%. Putative host populations were 13C-labelled on Days 3–30, while 13C-labelling of phage was detected on Days 14 and 30. This dynamic suggests rapid growth and 13C-labelling of the host fueled by new C inputs, followed by extensive host mortality driven by phage lysis. These findings indicate that the viral shunt promotes microbial turnover in soil following new C inputs, thereby altering microbial community dynamics, and facilitating soil organic matter production.

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