Initial virome characterization of the common cnidarian lab model nematostella vectensis

Magda Lewandowska, Yael Hazan, Yehu Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of viruses in forming a stable holobiont has been the subject of extensive research in recent years. However, many emerging model organisms still lack any data on the composition of the associated viral communities. Here, we re-analyzed seven publicly available transcriptome datasets of the starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, the most commonly used anthozoan lab model, and searched for viral sequences. We applied a straightforward, yet powerful approach of de novo assembly followed by homology-based virus identification and a multi-step, thorough taxonomic validation. The comparison of different lab populations of N. vectensis revealed the existence of the core virome composed of 21 viral sequences, present in all adult datasets. Unexpectedly, we observed an almost complete lack of viruses in the samples from the early developmental stages, which together with the identification of the viruses shared with the major source of the food in the lab, the brine shrimp Artemia salina, shed new light on the course of viral species acquisition in N. vectensis. Our study provides an initial, yet comprehensive insight into N. vectensis virome and sets the first foundation for the functional studies of viruses and antiviral systems in this lab model cnidarian.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number218
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Cnidaria
  • Nematostella vectensis
  • RNA-seq
  • Viruses

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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