Indexed on: 19 Oct '01Published on: 19 Oct '01Published in: PNAS
Viruses of extreme thermophiles are of great interest because they serve as model systems for understanding the biochemistry and molecular biology required for life at high temperatures. In this work, we report the discovery, isolation, and preliminary characterization of viruses and virus-like particles from extreme thermal acidic environments (70-92 degrees C, pH 1.0-4.5) found in Yellowstone National Park. Six unique particle morphologies were found in Sulfolobus enrichment cultures. Three of the particle morphologies are similar to viruses previously isolated from Sulfolobus species from Iceland and/or Japan. Sequence analysis of their viral genomes suggests that they are related to the Icelandic and Japanese isolates. In addition, three virus particle morphologies that had not been previously observed from thermal environments were found. These viruses appear to be completely novel in nature.