A Previously Undescribed Highly Prevalent Phage Identified in a Danish Enteric Virome Catalog

mSystems. 2021 Oct 26;6(5):e0038221. doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00382-21. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


Gut viruses are important, yet often neglected, players in the complex human gut microbial ecosystem. Recently, the number of human gut virome studies has been increasing; however, we are still only scratching the surface of the immense viral diversity. In this study, 254 virus-enriched fecal metagenomes from 204 Danish subjects were used to generate the Danish Enteric Virome Catalog (DEVoC) containing 12,986 nonredundant viral scaffolds, of which the majority was previously undescribed, encoding 190,029 viral genes. The DEVoC was used to compare 91 healthy DEVoC gut viromes from children, adolescents, and adults that were used to create the DEVoC. Gut viromes of healthy Danish subjects were dominated by phages. While most phage genomes (PGs) only occurred in a single subject, indicating large virome individuality, 39 PGs were present in more than 10 healthy subjects. Among these 39 PGs, the prevalences of three PGs were associated with age. To further study the prevalence of these 39 prevalent PGs, 1,880 gut virome data sets of 27 studies from across the world were screened, revealing several age-, geography-, and disease-related prevalence patterns. Two PGs also showed a remarkably high prevalence worldwide-a crAss-like phage (20.6% prevalence), belonging to the tentative AlphacrAssvirinae subfamily, and a previously undescribed circular temperate phage infecting Bacteroides dorei (14.4% prevalence), called LoVEphage because it encodes lots of viral elements. Due to the LoVEphage's high prevalence and novelty, public data sets in which the LoVEphage was detected were de novo assembled, resulting in an additional 18 circular LoVEphage-like genomes (67.9 to 72.4 kb). IMPORTANCE Through generation of the DEVoC, we added numerous previously uncharacterized viral genomes and genes to the ever-increasing worldwide pool of human gut viromes. The DEVoC, the largest human gut virome catalog generated from consistently processed fecal samples, facilitated the analysis of the 91 healthy Danish gut viromes. Characterizing the biggest cohort of healthy gut viromes from children, adolescents, and adults to date confirmed the previously established high interindividual variation in human gut viromes and demonstrated that the effect of age on the gut virome composition was limited to the prevalence of specific phage (groups). The identification of a previously undescribed prevalent phage illustrates the usefulness of developing virome catalogs, and we foresee that the DEVoC will benefit future analysis of the roles of gut viruses in human health and disease.

Keywords: healthy gut viromes; human gut virome; phages; virome catalog.