Caister Academic Press

Marine Viral Metagenomics with Emphasis on Coral Microbiomes

Rebecca L. Vega Thurber Jérôme P. Payet, Lu Wang and Alec O. Eastman
from: Viruses of Microorganisms (Edited by: Paul Hyman and Stephen T. Abedon). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2018) Pages: 95-114.


Methods for analysing the viromes associated with tropical marine waters and its abundant wildlife have rapidly progressed due to advances in molecular biology methodologies, nucleic acid sequencing technology, and computational analysis. The viruses of corals, the foundational organisms of shallow tropical reefs, have been one of the most well studied symbioses using these techniques. Reef building corals are known to play host to hundreds to thousands of bacterial taxa and upwards of two dozen viral families, including many viruses of microorganisms as well those infecting host tissues. Due to the lack of single marker genes to describe viruses in these systems, however, research on these two facets of coral reef viromes has required different approaches. Most coral bacterial analysis has come from amplicon analysis while few if any studies have used this approach to study coral viruses. Instead metagenomics and meta-transcriptomics have provided the necessary tools for scientists to catalogue, characterize, and compare the genetic diversity of viruses in coral systems. This review describes the history of this field with emphasis on how methods have evolved since its inception in the early 2000's. We describe some basic findings from the past 20 years and discuss the major limitations of past and current approaches. Finally, we provide some considerations for future work in this arena of viral metagenomics and marker gene analysis read more ...
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