Aquatic viruses have been extensively studied over the past decade, yet fundamental aspects of freshwater virus communities remain poorly described. Our goal was to characterize virus communities captured in the >0.22 µm size-fraction seasonally and spatially in a freshwater harbour. Community DNA was extracted from water samples and sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq platform. Assembled contigs were annotated as belonging to the virus groups (i.e., order or family) Caudovirales, Mimiviridae, Phycodnaviridae, and virophages (Lavidaviridae), or to other groups of undefined viruses. Virophages were often the most abundant group, and discrete virophage taxa were remarkably stable across sites and dates despite fluctuations in Mimiviridae community composition. Diverse Mimiviridae contigs were detected in the samples and the two sites contained distinct Mimiviridae communities, suggesting that Mimiviridae are important algal viruses in this system. Caudovirales and Phycodnaviridae were present at low abundances in most samples. Of the 18 environmental parameters tested, only chlorophyll a explained the variation in the data at the order or family level of classification. Overall, our findings provide insight into freshwater virus community assemblages by expanding the documented diversity of freshwater virus communities, highlighting the potential ecological importance of virophages, and revealing distinct communities over small spatial scales.
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