Virology, Nebraska Center for


Document Type


Date of this Version



Graham et al. Virology Journal (2023) 20:49


Open access.


Background The human skin contains a diverse microbiome that provides protective functions against environmental pathogens. Studies have demonstrated that bacteriophages modulate bacterial community composition and facilitate the transfer of host-specific genes, potentially influencing host cellular functions. However, little is known about the human skin virome and its role in human health. Especially, how viral-host relationships influence skin microbiome structure and function is poorly understood.

Results Population dynamics and genetic diversity of bacteriophage communities in viral metagenomic data collected from three anatomical skin locations from 60 subjects at five different time points revealed that cutaneous bacteriophage populations are mainly composed of tailed Caudovirales phages that carry auxiliary genes to help improve metabolic remodeling to increase bacterial host fitness through antimicrobial resistance. Sequence variation in the MRSA associated antimicrobial resistance gene, erm(C) was evaluated using targeted sequencing to further confirm the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes in the human virome and to demonstrate how functionality of such genes may influence persistence and in turn stabilization of bacterial host and their functions.

Conclusions This large temporal study of human skin associated viruses indicates that the human skin virome is associated with auxiliary metabolic genes and antimicrobial resistance genes to help increase bacterial host fitness.