Remarkable morphological diversity of viruses and virus-like particles in hot terrestrial environments

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Electron microscopic studies of the viruses in two hot springs (85 degrees C, pH 1.5-2.0, and 75-93 degrees C, pH 6.5) in Yellowstone National Park revealed particles with twelve different morphotypes. This diversity encompassed known viruses of hyperthermophilic archaea, filamentous Lipothrixviridae, rod-shaped Rudiviridae, and spindle-shaped Fuselloviridae, and novel morphotypes previously not observed in nature. Two virus types resembled head-and-tail bacteriophages from the families Siphoviridae and Podoviridae, and constituted the first observation of these viruses in a hydrothermal environment. Viral hosts in the acidic spring were members of the hyperthermophilic archaeal genus Acidianus.


Archaebacteria; Bacteriophages; Hot springs; Thermophilic microorganisms; United States – Yellowstone National Park; Viruses – Ecology


Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Life Sciences | Microbiology | Virology

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