Diversité, évolution et écologie virale : des communautés aux génotypes. Analyse bioinformatique de métagénomes viraux

Abstract : Viruses likely infect every organism on Earth (in some cases even other viruses!), and represent vast morphological and genetic diversity. Not surprisingly given their numerical dominance, viruses significantly impact ecosystems through regulating microbial populations, driving major biogeochemical cycles, and shaping the evolution of hosts genomes. However, our understanding of viruses in nature is primitive, especially because the majority of environmental viral genomes remains uncharacterized. Metagenomics (i.e. random and massive sequencing of genomic fragments isolated from a sample) applied to encapsidated genetic templates provides a unique perspective on the viral pangenome. The first viral metagenomes (or viromes) generated entire sets of new questions about viral diversity, especially concerning their genetic and species richness. This work was set within this frame of viral diversity study through metagenomics, and organized into four main themes : • The development of bioinformatics tools adapted to the specific features of viral genomes and metagenomes led to the release of Metavir, the first web server dedicated to virome analysis. Providing a comprehensive set of connected tools, Metavir has now been used by more than 300 users in the analysis of more than 2000 viromes. • The functions encoded within viral genomes were for the first time thoroughly examined, following a rigorous examination of a set of published viromes toward contamination by cellular DNA. A new picture of the viral functional potential could thus be drawn, which confirmed that the range of cellular functions encoded in viral genomes is wider than the one retrieved from the complete genomes currently available, though not as great as previously estimated. • The study of the aquatic viral metagenomes also revealed the importance of salinity in the distribution of viral communities across the globe. The ubiquitous distribution of most viral genotypes confirmed that viral particles seem to be able to move across any distance on Earth. Viruses are thus likely selected based on factors such as the presence of their host in the samples and the competition with other parasites, which can still drive local adaptations. • Finally, viromes were used to better characterize the diversity of different ssDNA viral families. Despite their small size and relative simplicity, these viruses were found to harbor unexpectedly complex cycles and evolutionary mechanisms, in particular a great potential of recombination and gene transfer. Overall, the new genomes assembled from viromes notably challenge the separation between viruses based on the nature of their genome. Eventually, as illustrated by these different works and analyses, viromes are unique and extremely powerful tool to assess and characterize viral genetic diversity. Moreover, considering the tight links between viral and cellular worlds, insights into the viral communities provided by metagenomics make it possible to address fundamental questions such as the origin of important evolutive innovations or the functioning of ecosystems, so that these results are of interest for the whole field of biology.
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Simon Roux. Diversité, évolution et écologie virale : des communautés aux génotypes. Analyse bioinformatique de métagénomes viraux. Sciences agricoles. Université Blaise Pascal - Clermont-Ferrand II, 2013. Français. ⟨NNT : 2013CLF22380⟩. ⟨tel-00908344⟩

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