Sulfur oxidation genes in diverse deep-sea viruses

Karthik Anantharaman, Melissa B. Duhaime, John A. Breier, Kathleen A. Wendt, Brandy M. Toner, Gregory J. Dick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Viruses are the most abundant biological entities in the oceans and a pervasive cause of mortality of microorganisms that drive biogeochemical cycles. Although the ecological and evolutionary effects of viruses on marine phototrophs are well recognized, little is known about their impact on ubiquitous marine lithotrophs. Here, we report 18 genome sequences of double-stranded DNA viruses that putatively infect widespread sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Fifteen of these viral genomes contain auxiliary metabolic genes for the α and γ subunits of reverse dissimilatory sulfite reductase (rdsr). This enzyme oxidizes elemental sulfur, which is abundant in the hydrothermal plumes studied here. Our findings implicate viruses as a key agent in the sulfur cycle and as a reservoir of genetic diversity for bacterial enzymes that underpin chemosynthesis in the deep oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-760
Number of pages4
Issue number6185
StatePublished - 2014

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