Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 32439847
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s42003-020-0970-9
Commun Biol 2020 05; 3(1): 248
Virus adaptation to new hosts is a major cause of infectious disease emergence. This mechanism has been intensively studied in the context of zoonotic virus spillover, due to its impact on global health. However, it remains unclear for virophages, parasites of giant viruses and potential regulators of microbial communities. Here, we present, for the first time to our knowledge, evidence of cross-species infection of a virophage. We demonstrated that challenging the native population of Guarani virophage with two previously unidentified giant viruses, previously nonpermissive to this virophage, allows the selection of a mutant genotype able to infect these giant viruses. We were able to characterize the potential genetic determinant (deletion) carried by the virophage with the expanded-host range. Our study also highlights the relevant biological impact of this host adaptation by demonstrating that coinfection with the mixture containing the mutant virophage abolishes giant virus production and rescues the host cell population from lysis.