Single-stranded DNA viruses in antarctic cryoconite holes

Pacifica Sommers, Rafaela S. Fontenele, Tayele Kringen, Simona Kraberger, Dorota L. Porazinska, John L. Darcy, Steven K. Schmidt, Arvind Varsani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Antarctic cryoconite holes, or small melt-holes in the surfaces of glaciers, create habitable oases for isolated microbial communities with tightly linked microbial population structures. Viruses may influence the dynamics of polar microbial communities, but the viromes of the Antarctic cryoconite holes have yet to be characterized. We characterize single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses from three cryoconite holes in the Taylor Valley, Antarctica, using metagenomics. Half of the assembled metagenomes cluster with those in the viral family Microviridae (n = 7), and the rest with unclassified circular replication associated protein (Rep)-encoding single-stranded (CRESS) DNA viruses (n = 7). An additional 18 virus-like circular molecules encoding either a Rep, a capsid protein gene, or other unidentified but viral-like open reading frames were identified. The samples from which the genomes were identified show a strong gradient in microbial diversity and abundances, and the number of viral genomes detected in each sample mirror that gradient. Additionally, one of the CRESS genomes assembled here shares ~90% genome-wide pairwise identity with a virus identified from a freshwater pond on the McMurdo Ice Shelf (Antarctica). Otherwise, the similarity of these viruses to those previously identified is relatively low. Together, these patterns are consistent with the presence of a unique regional virome present in fresh water host populations of the McMurdo Dry Valley region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1022
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 4 2019


  • Antarctica
  • CRESS DNA virus
  • Cryoconite
  • Glacier
  • Microvirus
  • Viral metagenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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