The Human Skin dsDNA Virome: Topographical and Temporal Diversity, Genetic Enrichment, and Dynamic Associations with the Host Microbiome

<p>Viruses comprise a major component of the human microbiota, but are poorly understood in the skin, our primary barrier to the external environment. Viral communities have the potential to modulate states of cutaneous health and disease. Bacteriophages are known to influence the structure and function of microbial communities through predation and genetic exchange. Human viruses are associated with skin cancers and a multitude of cutaneous manifestations. Despite these important roles, little is known regarding the human skin virome and its interactions with the host microbiome. Here we evaluate the human cutaneous dsDNA virome by metagenomic sequencing of DNA from purified virus-like particles (VLPs). In parallel we employ metagenomic sequencing of the total skin microbiome to assess co-variation and infer interactions with the virome. Samples were collected from sixteen subjects at eight body sites over one month. In addition to microenviroment, which is known to partition bacterial and fungal microbiota, natural skin occlusion was strongly associated with skin virome community composition. Viral contigs were enriched for genes indicative of a temperate phage replication style, and also maintained genes encoding potential antibiotic resistance and virulence factors. CRISPR spacers identified in the bacterial DNA sequences provided a record of phage predation and suggest a mechanism to explain spatial partitioning of skin phage communities. Finally, we model the structure of bacterial and phage communities together to reveal a complex microbial environment with a Corynebacterium hub. These results reveal the previously underappreciated diversity, encoded functions, and viral-microbial dynamic unique to the human skin virome.</p>