Little is known about the diversity and role of bacteriophages in carbon (C) rich ecosystems such as peatlands in tropical and temperate regions. In fact, there is no currently published assessment of phage abundance on diversity in a key tropical ecosystem such as Amazon peatlands. To better understand phage assemblages in terrestrial ecosystems and how bacteriophages influence organic C cycling to final products like CO2 and CH4, phage communities and phage-like particles were recovered, quantified, and viable phage particles were enriched from pore water from contrasting Amazon peatlands. Here we present the first results on assessing Amazon bacteriophages on native heterotrophic bacteria. Several steps to test for methodological suitability were taken. First, the efficiency of iron flocculation method was determined using fluorescent microscopy counts of phage TLS, a TolC-specific and LPS-specific bacteriophage, and Escherichia coli host pre- and post-extraction method. One-hundred percent efficiency and 0.15% infectivity was evidenced. Infectivity effects were determined by calculating plaque forming units pre and post extraction method. After testing these methods, fieldwork in the Amazon peatlands ensued, where phages were enriched from pore water samples. Phages were extracted and concentrated by in tandem filtering rounds to remove organic matter and bacteria, and then iron flocculation to bind the phages and allow for precipitation onto a filter. Phage concentrates were then used for overall counts, with fluorescent microscopy, as well as phage isolation attempts. Phage isolations were performed by first testing for lysis of host cells in liquid media using OD600 absorbance of cultures with and without phage concentrate as well as attempts with the cross-streaking methods. Forty-five heterotrophic bacterial isolates obtained from the same Amazon peatland were challenged with phage concentrates. Once a putative host was found, steps were taken to further propagate and isolate the phage. Several putative phages were enriched from Amazon peatland pore water and require further characterization. TEM imaging was taken of two phages isolated from two plaques. Genomes of selected phages will be sequenced for identification. These results provide the groundwork for further characterizing the role bacteriophage play in C cycling and greenhouse gas production from Amazon peatland soils.
- Early Assessment of Phage Communities in Amazon Peatland Soils