Tracing the fate of wastewater viruses reveals catchment-scale virome diversity and connectivity

Adriaenssens, Evelien, Farkas, Kata, McDonald, James ORCID: 0000-0002-6328-3752, Jones, David, Allison, Heather and McCarthy, Alan
(2020) Tracing the fate of wastewater viruses reveals catchment-scale virome diversity and connectivity.

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The discharge of wastewater-derived viruses in aquatic environments impacts catchment-scale virome composition and is a potential hazard to human health. Here, we used viromic analysis of RNA and DNA virus-like particle preparations to track virus communities entering and leaving wastewater treatment plants and the connecting river catchment system and estuary. We found substantial viral diversity and geographically distinct virus communities associated with different wastewater treatment plants. River and estuarine water bodies harboured more diverse viral communities in downstream locations, influenced by tidal movement and proximity to wastewater treatment plants. Shellfish and beach sand were enriched in viral communities when compared with the surrounding water, acting as entrapment matrices for virus particles. We reconstructed >40,000 partial viral genomes into 10,149 species-level groups, dominated by dsDNA and (+)ssRNA bacteriophages (Caudovirales and Leviviridae). We identified 73 (partial) genomes comprising six families that could pose a risk to human health; Astroviridae, Caliciviridae (sapovirus), Picornaviridae (cocksackievirus), Reoviridae (rotavirus), Parvoviridae and Circoviridae. Based on the pattern of viral incidence, we observe that wastewater-derived viral genetic material is commonly deposited in the environment, but due to fragemented nature of these viral genomes, the risk to human health is low, and is more likely driven by community transmission, with wastewater-derived viruses subject to cycles of dilution, enrichment and virion degradation influenced by local geography, weather events and tidal effects. Our data illustrate the utility of viromic analyses for wastewater- and environment-based epidemiology, and we present a conceptual model for the circulation of viruses in a freshwater catchment.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 11:17
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2022 21:10
DOI: 10.21203/