Poster Presentation Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting 2018

Global phylogeography and ancient evolution of the widespread human gut virus crAssphage (#232)

Robert A Edwards , Bas E Dutilh , The crAssphage consortium

Microbiomes are vast communities of microbes and viruses that populate all natural ecosystems. Viruses have been considered the most variable component of microbiomes, as supported by virome surveys and examples of high genomic mosaicism. However, recent evidence suggests that the human gut virome is remarkably stable compared to other environments. Here we present the origin, evolution, and epidemiology of crAssphage, a widespread human gut virus. Through a global collaboratory, we obtained DNA sequences of crAssphage from over one-third of the world’s countries, showing that its phylogeography is locally clustered within countries, cities, and individuals. We also found colinear crAssphage-like genomes in both Old-World and New-World primates, challenging rampant viral genomic mosaicism and suggesting that the association of crAssphage with hominids may be millions of years old. We conclude that crAssphage is a benign globetrotter virus that has co-evolved with the human lineage and an integral part of the normal human gut virome.