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Virus-host coexistence in phytoplankton through the genomic lens

  • Yau, Sheree1, 2
  • Krasovec, Marc1
  • Benites, L. Felipe1
  • Rombauts, Stephane3, 4
  • Groussin, Mathieu5
  • Vancaester, Emmelien3, 4
  • Aury, Jean-Marc6
  • Derelle, Evelyne1, 7
  • Desdevises, Yves1
  • Escande, Marie-Line1
  • Grimsley, Nigel1
  • Guy, Julie6
  • Moreau, Hervé1
  • Sanchez-Brosseau, Sophie1
  • van de Peer, Yves3, 4, 8
  • Vandepoele, Klaas3, 4
  • Gourbiere, Sebastien9
  • Piganeau, Gwenael1
  • 1 Sorbonne Université, CNRS, UMR 7232 Biologie Intégrative des Organismes Marins (BIOM), Observatoire Océanologique, F-66650 Banyuls-sur-Mer, France.
  • 2 Department of Marine Biology and Oceanography, Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM), CSIC, Barcelona, Spain.
  • 3 Ghent University, Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 71, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.
  • 4 VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology, Technologiepark-Zwijnaarde 71, 9052 Ghent, Belgium.
  • 5 Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 500 Technology Square NE47-378, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
  • 6 Genoscope, Institut de biologie François Jacob, Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), Université Paris-Saclay, Evry, France.
  • 7 Univ. Brest, CNRS, IRD, Ifremer, LEMAR, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
  • 8 Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria 0028, South Africa.
  • 9 Laboratoire Génome et Développement des Plantes, Université de Perpignan Via Domitia, UMR 5096, 52 Avenue Paul Alduy, 66860 Perpignan, France.
Published Article
Science Advances
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay2587
PMID: 32270031
PMCID: PMC7112755
PubMed Central


Virus-microbe interactions in the ocean are commonly described by “boom and bust” dynamics, whereby a numerically dominant microorganism is lysed and replaced by a virus-resistant one. Here, we isolated a microalga strain and its infective dsDNA virus whose dynamics are characterized instead by parallel growth of both the microalga and the virus. Experimental evolution of clonal lines revealed that this viral production originates from the lysis of a minority of virus-susceptible cells, which are regenerated from resistant cells. Whole-genome sequencing demonstrated that this resistant-susceptible switch involved a large deletion on one chromosome. Mathematical modeling explained how the switch maintains stable microalga-virus population dynamics consistent with their observed growth pattern. Comparative genomics confirmed an ancient origin of this “accordion” chromosome despite a lack of sequence conservation. Together, our results show how dynamic genomic rearrangements may account for a previously overlooked coexistence mechanism in microalgae-virus interactions.

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