Going viral in the Southern Ocean

Corina Brussaard and Claire Evans
Department of Biological Oceanography, NIOZ-Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

The Southern Ocean plays a major role in Earth system carbon cycling and is already being modified in response to global change, yet little is known about the structuring role of viruses on the microbial communities (including primary producers). Here we will show viral lysis and microzooplankton grazing rates of phytoplankton (<20 um cell diameter), as well as the significance of lytic and lysogenic viral infections of the bacterial community throughout the Southern Ocean’s diverse zones (e.g. sub-Antarctic Zone, Antarctic Circumpolar Current, coastal Antarctic Sea). Whilst viral lysis of the pico- and nano-eukaryotes was recorded, lytic viral infection controlled particularly the cyanobacterial populations (frequently exceeding rates of grazing). At all the sites surveyed viral-induced mortality exerted strong control of bacterial populations with half or more of the bacterial production lysed per day. Within the SAZ, the more productive outer zone, bacterial lysis rates were generally high and lysogeny was not detected. Whereas, in the ACC, lower bacterial lysis rates were combined with a shift towards lysogenic infection. In the Weddell Sea, lytic viral infection was potentially important in the production of bacterial substrates which may weaken the dependence of heterotrophs on the autotrophic populations as reported for this region. The impact of viral lysis on the biogeochemical fluxes will be discussed.

Willem Barentsz Poolinstituut

Bundeling van kennis, onderzoek en onderwijs over de Noord- en de Zuidpool

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