Metatranscriptome Library Preparation Influences Analyses of Viral Community Activity During a Brown Tide Bloom

Eric R. Gann, Yoonja Kang, Sonya T. Dyhrman, Christopher J. Gobler, Steven W. Wilhelm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


There is growing interest in the use of metatranscriptomics to study virus community dynamics. We used RNA samples collected from harmful brown tides caused by the eukaryotic alga Aureococcus anophagefferens within New York (United States) estuaries and in the process observed how preprocessing of libraries by either selection for polyadenylation or reduction in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) influenced virus community analyses. As expected, more reads mapped to the A. anophagefferens genome in polyadenylation-selected libraries compared to the rRNA-reduced libraries, with reads mapped in each sample correlating to one another regardless of preprocessing of libraries. Yet, this trend was not seen for reads mapping to the Aureococcus anophagefferens Virus (AaV), where significantly more reads (approximately two orders of magnitude) were mapped to the AaV genome in the rRNA-reduced libraries. In the rRNA-reduced libraries, there was a strong and significant correlation between reads mappings to AaV and A. anophagefferens. Overall, polyadenylation-selected libraries produced fewer viral contigs, fewer reads mapped to viral contigs, and different proportions across viral realms and families, compared to their rRNA-reduced pairs. This study provides evidence that libraries generated by rRNA reduction and not selected for polyadenylation are more appropriate for quantitative characterization of viral communities in aquatic ecosystems by metatranscriptomics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number664189
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 31 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • library preparation
  • marine microbiology
  • polyadenylation selection
  • rRNA reduction
  • virus ecology


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