Single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) viruses with circular genomes are the smallest viruses known to infect eukaryotes. The present study identified 10 novel genomes similar to ssDNA circoviruses through data-mining of public viral metagenomes. The metagenomic libraries included samples from reclaimed water and three different marine environments (Chesapeake Bay, British Columbia coastal waters and Sargasso Sea). All the genomes have similarities to the replication (Rep) protein of circoviruses; however, only half have genomic features consistent with known circoviruses. Some of the genomes exhibit a mixture of genomic features associated with different families of ssDNA viruses (i.e. circoviruses, geminiviruses and parvoviruses). Unique genome architectures and phylogenetic analysis of the Rep protein suggest that these viruses belong to novel genera and/or families. Investigating the complex community of ssDNA viruses in the environment can lead to the discovery of divergent species and help elucidate evolutionary links between ssDNA viruses.
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