Species-specific viromes in the ancestral holobiont Hydra.

Juris A Grasis, Tim Lachnit, Friederike Anton-Erxleben, Yan Wei Lim, Robert Schmieder, Sebastian Fraune, Sören Franzenburg, Santiago Insua, GloriaMay Machado, Matthew Haynes, Mark Little, Robert Kimble, Philip Rosenstiel, Forest L Rohwer, Thomas C G Bosch
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PloS one
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Recent evidence showing host specificity of colonizing bacteria supports the view that multicellular organisms are holobionts comprised of the macroscopic host in synergistic interdependence with a heterogeneous and host-specific microbial community. Whereas host-bacteria interactions have been extensively investigated, comparatively little is known about host-virus interactions and viral contribution to the holobiont. We sought to determine the viral communities associating with different Hydra species, whether these viral communities were altered with environmental stress, and whether these viruses affect the Hydra-associated holobiont. Here we show that each species of Hydra harbors a diverse host-associated virome. Primary viral families associated with Hydra are Myoviridae, Siphoviridae, Inoviridae, and Herpesviridae. Most Hydra-associated viruses are bacteriophages, a reflection of their involvement in the holobiont. Changes in environmental conditions alter the associated virome, increase viral diversity, and affect the metabolism of the holobiont. The specificity and dynamics of the virome point to potential viral involvement in regulating microbial associations in the Hydra holobiont. While viruses are generally regarded as pathogenic agents, our study suggests an evolutionary conserved ability of viruses to function as holobiont regulators and, therefore, constitutes an emerging paradigm shift in host-microbe interactions.