Metatranscriptomics reveals mycoviral populations in the ovine rumen

Thomas C.A. Hitch*, Joan E. Edwards, Rosalind A. Gilbert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The rumen is known to contain DNA-based viruses, although it is not known whether RNA-based viruses that infect fungi (mycoviruses) are also present. Analysis of publicly available rumen metatranscriptome sequence data from sheep rumen samples (n = 20) was used to assess whether RNA-based viruses exist within the ovine rumen. A total of 2466 unique RNA viral contigs were identified that had homology to nine viral families. The Partitiviridae was the most consistently observed mycoviral family. High variation in the abundance of each detected mycovirus suggests that rumen mycoviral populations vary greatly between individual sheep. Functional analysis of the genes within the assembled mycoviral contigs suggests that the mycoviruses detected had simple genomes, often only carrying the machinery required for replication. The fungal population of the ovine rumen was also assessed using metagenomics data from the same samples, and was consistently dominated by the phyla Ascomycota and Basidomycota. The strictly anaerobic phyla Neocallimastigomycota were also present in all samples but at a low abundance. This preliminary investigation has provided clear evidence that mycoviruses with RNA genomes exist in the rumen, with further in-depth studies now required to characterise this mycoviral community and determine its role in the rumen.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfnz161
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2019


  • fungi
  • mycobiome
  • mycovirus
  • RNA
  • rumen

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