ISME J 9(9) , 2094-107 (Sep 2015)
Despite knowledge that viruses are abundant in natural ecosystems, there is limited understanding of which viruses infect which hosts, and how both hosts and viruses respond to those interactions-interactions that ultimately shape community structure and dynamics. In Deep Lake, Antarctica, intergenera gene exchange occurs rampantly within the low complexity, haloarchaea-dominated community, strongly balanced by distinctions in niche adaptation which maintain sympatric speciation. By performing metaproteomics for the first time on haloarchaea, genomic variation of S-layer, archaella and other cell surface proteins was linked to mechanisms of infection evasion. CRISPR defense systems were found to be active, with haloarchaea responding to at least eight distinct types of viruses, including those infecting between genera. The role of BREX systems in defending against viruses was also examined. Although evasion and defense were evident, both hosts and viruses also may benefit from viruses carrying and expressing host genes, thereby potentially enhancing genetic variation and phenotypic differences within populations. The data point to a complex inter-play leading to a dynamic optimization of host-virus interactions. This comprehensive overview was achieved only through the integration of results from metaproteomics, genomics and metagenomics.