Host–virus shift of the sphingolipid pathway along an Emiliania huxleyi bloom: survival of the fattest

Authors

  • António Pagarete,

    1. UPMC Univ. Paris 06, UMR 7144, Equipe EPPO: Evolution du Plancton et PaléoOcéans, Station Biologique de Roscoff, 29682 Roscoff, France.
    2. CNRS, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, 29682 Roscoff, France.
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  • Michael J. Allen,

    Corresponding author
    1. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK.
      *E-mail mija@pml.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) 1752 633472; Fax (+44) 1752 633101.
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  • William H. Wilson,

    1. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK.
    2. Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, ME 04575, USA.
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    • Present address: Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, W. Boothbay Harbor, 04575 ME, USA.

  • Susan A. Kimmance,

    1. Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Prospect Place, The Hoe, Plymouth PL1 3DH, UK.
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  • Colomban De Vargas

    Corresponding author
    1. UPMC Univ. Paris 06, UMR 7144, Equipe EPPO: Evolution du Plancton et PaléoOcéans, Station Biologique de Roscoff, 29682 Roscoff, France.
    2. CNRS, UMR 7144, Station Biologique de Roscoff, 29682 Roscoff, France.
      **E-mail vargas@sb-roscoff.fr; Tel. (+33) 02 98 29 25 28; Fax (+33) 02 98 29 23 24
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*E-mail mija@pml.ac.uk; Tel. (+44) 1752 633472; Fax (+44) 1752 633101.

**E-mail vargas@sb-roscoff.fr; Tel. (+33) 02 98 29 25 28; Fax (+33) 02 98 29 23 24

Summary

The interactions between viruses and phytoplankton play a key role in shaping the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of oceanic ecosystems. One of the most fascinating examples of horizontal gene transfer between a eukaryotic host and its virus is a de novo sphingolipid biosynthesis pathway (SBP) found in the genomes of both Emiliania huxleyi and its coccolithovirus EhV-86. Here, we focus on a natural E. huxleyi/coccolithovirus system off the coast of Norway and investigate the dynamics of host and virus homologous gene expression for two of the most important sphingolipid biosynthesis enzymes, serine palmitoyl transferase (SPT) and dihydroceramide desaturase (DCD). Transcriptional dynamics display three defined stages along E. huxleyi bloom formation and decline, with the coccolithovirus transcripts taking over and controlling the SBP in stages 2 and 3. The observed patterns fit the hypothesis according to which viral sphingolipids are involved in the timing and physical processes of virion release from the host cells. This study provides a unique insight into the transcriptional interplay of homologous metabolic pathways between virus and host during temporal progression of oceanic E. huxleyi blooms.

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