Giant Viruses, Chlamydia, Vampire Bacteria and the Unexpected Diversity in Soil Microbial Life in the Harvard Forest Experimental Warming Plots
The Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research site in Petersham, MA is home to long-term experimental soil warming sites heated continuously to 5° C above ambient since 1991 and 2001, ample time for natural selection of genotypes better adapted to the altered environment. To better understand microbial biodiversity and develop a reference database for read mapping, we used a variant of single cell sequencing with small poosls of cell to improve cost efficiency. Phylogenomic analysis revealed a surprising diversity of microbial life. Sixteen new lineages of giant viruses were discovered for the first time in a forest soil ecosystem. Intracellular and host-dependent bacteria were enriched in the data set relative to abundances in our traditional metagenomics data set of DNA extracted directly from the soil. This collection of mini-MAGs exposed a reservoir of genetic diversity in difficult to cultivate organisms, some of which are related to human pathogens.
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