Just as the expansion in genome sequencing has revealed and permitted the exploitation of phylogenetic signals embedded in bacterial genomes, the application of metagenomics has begun to provide similar insights at the ecosystem-level for microbial communities. However, little is known regarding this aspect of bacteriophage associated with microbial ecosystems, and if phage encode discernible habitat-associated signals diagnostic of underlying microbiomes. Here we demonstrate that individual phage can encode clear habitat-related “ecogenomic signatures”, based on relative representation of phage encoded gene homologues in metagenomic datasets. Furthermore, we show the ecogenomic signature encoded by the gut-associated ɸB124-14 can be used to segregate metagenomes according to environmental origin, and distinguish “contaminated” environmental metagenomes (subject to simulated in silico human faecal pollution) from uncontaminated datasets. This indicates phage encoded ecological signals likely possess sufficient discriminatory power for use in biotechnological applications, such as development of microbial source tracking tools for monitoring water quality.
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- Human gut microbiome
- faecal pollution
- phage ecology
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- School of Applied Sciences - Professor of Environmental Microbiology
- Centre for Precision Health and Translational Medicine
- Centre for Earth Observation Science
- Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group