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Rhodopsins are broadly distributed. In this work, we analyzed 23 metagenomes corresponding to marine sediment samples from four regions that share cold climate conditions (Norway; Sweden; Argentina and Antarctica). In order to investigate the genes evolution of viral rhodopsins, an initial set of 6224 bacterial rhodopsin sequences according to COG5524 were retrieved from the 23 metagenomes. After selection by the presence of transmembrane domains and alignment, 123 viral (51) and non-viral (72) sequences (>50 amino acids) were finally included in further analysis. Viral rhodopsin genes were homologs of Phaeocystis globosa virus and Organic lake Phycodnavirus. Non-viral microbial rhodopsin genes were ascribed to Bacteroidetes, Planctomycetes, Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Proteobacteria, Deinococcus-Thermus and Cryptophyta and Fungi. A rescreening using Blastp, using as queries the viral sequences previously described, retrieved 30 sequences (>100 amino acids). Phylogeographic analysis revealed a geographical clustering of the sequences affiliated to the viral group. This clustering was not observed for the microbial non-viral sequences. The phylogenetic reconstruction allowed us to propose the existence of a putative ancestor of viral rhodopsin genes related to Actinobacteria and Chloroflexi. This is the first report about the existence of a phylogeographic association of the viral rhodopsin sequences from marine sediments. © FEMS 2016. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


José L López, Marcelo Golemba, Edgardo Hernández, Mariana Lozada, Hebe Dionisi, Janet K Jansson, Jolynn Carroll, Leif Lundgren, Sara Sjöling, Walter P Mac Cormack. Microbial and viral-like rhodopsins present in coastal marine sediments from four polar and subpolar regions. FEMS microbiology ecology. 2017 Jan 01;93(1)

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PMID: 27815287

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