In Nature Communications, giant virus genomes have been discovered for the first time in a forest soil ecosystem by researchers from the JGI and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (UMass Amherst). The giant virus genomes were discovered by JGI research scientist Frederik Schulz while helping Lauren Alteio, a UMass Amherst graduate student in Jeff Blanchard’s lab, analyze her metagenomic data. JGI researchers used a “mini-metagenomics” approach to reduce the complexity of the soil microbial communities, uncovering 15 novel giant virus genomes.
“Soils have been an overlooked ecosystem for giant virus diversity, with studies mostly focused on aquatic environments. The unbinned metagenome soil data suggests that the extent of giant virus diversity in Harvard forest soil is much higher than the 16 genomes recovered in this study, but accessing the genomes with traditional approaches is challenging,” said JGI Microbial Program head and study senior author Tanja Woyke. Click here to learn more on the JGI website.