PloS one. 2009-09-29; 4.9: e7264.

Metagenomic analysis of RNA viruses in a fresh water lake

Djikeng A, Kuzmickas R, Anderson NG, Spiro DJ

PMID: 19787045


Freshwater lakes and ponds present an ecological interface between humans and a variety of host organisms. They are a habitat for the larval stage of many insects and may serve as a medium for intraspecies and interspecies transmission of viruses such as avian influenza A virus. Furthermore, freshwater bodies are already known repositories for disease-causing viruses such as Norwalk Virus, Coxsackievirus, Echovirus, and Adenovirus. While RNA virus populations have been studied in marine environments, to this date there has been very limited analysis of the viral community in freshwater. Here we present a survey of RNA viruses in Lake Needwood, a freshwater lake in Maryland, USA. Our results indicate that just as in studies of other aquatic environments, the majority of nucleic acid sequences recovered did not show any significant similarity to known sequences. The remaining sequences are mainly from viral types with significant similarity to approximately 30 viral families. We speculate that these novel viruses may infect a variety of hosts including plants, insects, fish, domestic animals and humans. Among these viruses we have discovered a previously unknown dsRNA virus closely related to Banna Virus which is responsible for a febrile illness and is endemic to Southeast Asia. Moreover we found multiple viral sequences distantly related to Israeli Acute Paralysis virus which has been implicated in honeybee colony collapse disorder. Our data suggests that due to their direct contact with humans, domestic and wild animals, freshwater ecosystems might serve as repositories of a wide range of viruses (both pathogenic and non-pathogenic) and possibly be involved in the spread of emerging and pandemic diseases.