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Arctic and subarctic ecosystems have been disproportionately affected by climate change. Among the consequences of the increase in temperature in these regions has been an increase in the size and the number of thermokarst lakes and ponds, small water bodies resulting from the melting and erosion of permafrost. It is known that these ecosystems have a very rich microbial diversity whose intense metabolic activity is responsible for a substantial greenhouse gas emission, including methane and carbon dioxide. However, even though aquatic viruses influence the structure and evolution of microbial communities, the flow of resources in the food web and the metabolism of their microbial hosts, the viral portion of the communities of these ponds remains almost uncharacterized.
The main objective of this project is the characterisation of the diversity and seasonal dynamics of wild viruses in subarctic thermokarst ponds.
We have selected three representative thaw ponds in the region of Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik, in the Sasapimakwananisikw (SAS) valley (55°22'N, 77°69'O), as sampling site for this project.
Triplicate viral communities from surface and deep will be characterized based on a metagenomic approach, with samples collected from the SAS thermokarst ponds in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Briefly, water is collected from the pond, prefiltered to remove cells and collected on a 0.02 µm filter. The filter with the virus-enriched fraction is subsequently extracted and prepared for sequencing.
With these data, we intend to characterize thaw pond viral diversity, investigate seasonal differences, elucidate possible overwintering adaptations and gain insight into the role of viruses in microbial metabolic activity.