The potential dependence of virus populations on soil types was examined by electron microscopy, and the total abundance of virus particles in four soil types was similar to that previously observed in soil samples. The four soil types examined differed in the relative abundances of four morphological groups of viruses. Machair, a unique type of coastal soil in western Scotland and Ireland, differed from the others tested in having a higher proportion of tailed bacteriophages. The other soils examined contained predominantly spherical and thin filamentous virus particles, but the Machair soil had a more even distribution of the virus types. As the first step in looking at differences in populations in detail, virus sequences from Machair and brown earth (agricultural pasture) soils were examined by metagenomic sequencing after enriching for circular Rep-encoding single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) (CRESS-DNA) virus genomes. Sequences from the family Microviridae (icosahedral viruses mainly infecting bacteria) of CRESS-DNA viruses were predominant in both soils. Phylogenetic analysis of Microviridae major coat protein sequences from the Machair viruses showed that they spanned most of the diversity of the subfamily Gokushovirinae, whose members mainly infect obligate intracellular parasites. The brown earth soil had a higher proportion of sequences that matched the morphologically similar family Circoviridae in BLAST searches. However, analysis of putative replicase proteins that were similar to those of viruses in the Circoviridae showed that they are a novel clade of Circoviridae-related CRESS-DNA viruses distinct from known Circoviridae genera. Different soils have substantially different taxonomic biodiversities even within ssDNA viruses, which may be driven by physicochemical factors.
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