Bacteriophages are likely the most abundant entities in the aquatic environment, yet knowledge of their ecology is limited. During a fecal source-tracking study, two genetically novel Leviviridae strains were discovered. Although the novel strains were isolated from coastal waters 1130 km apart (North Carolina and Rhode Island, USA), these strains shared 97% nucleotide similarity and 97-100% amino acid similarity. When the novel strains were compared to nine Levivirus genogroup I strains, they shared 95-100% similarity among the maturation, capsid and lysis proteins, but only 84-85% in the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene. Further bioinformatic analyses suggested a recombination event occurred. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first description of viral recombinants in environmental Leviviridae ssRNA bacteriophages.
Keywords: FRNA; Leviviridae; bacteriophage; male-specific coliphage; ssRNA virus; viral recombinants.