The family of double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) Malacoherpesviridae includes viruses able to infect marine mollusks and detrimental for worldwide aquaculture production. Due to fast-occurring mortality and a lack of permissive cell lines, the available data on the few known Malacoherpesviridae provide only partial support for the study of molecular virus features, life cycle, and evolutionary history. Following thorough data mining of bivalve and gastropod RNA-seq experiments, we used more than five million Malacoherpesviridae reads to improve the annotation of viral genomes and to characterize viral InDels, nucleotide stretches, and SNPs. Both genome and protein domain analyses confirmed the evolutionary diversification and gene uniqueness of known Malacoherpesviridae. However, the presence of Malacoherpesviridae-like sequences integrated within genomes of phylogenetically distant invertebrates indicates broad diffusion of these viruses and indicates the need for confirmatory investigations. The manifest co-occurrence of OsHV-1 genotype variants in single RNA-seq samples of Crassostrea gigas provide further support for the Malacoherpesviridae diversification. In addition to simple sequence motifs inter-punctuating viral ORFs, recombination-inducing sequences were found to be enriched in the OsHV-1 and AbHV1-AUS genomes. Finally, the highly correlated expression of most viral ORFs in multiple oyster samples is consistent with the burst of viral proteins during the lytic phase.
Umberto Rosani and Paola Venier, Front. Microbiol., 09 August 2017