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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Mar;68(3):1468-72.

Higher abundance of bacteria than of viruses in deep Mediterranean sediments.

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Institute of Marine Sciences, Marine Biology Section, Faculty of Science, University of Ancona, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy.


The interactions between viral abundance and bacterial density, biomass, and production were investigated along a longitudinal transect consisting of nine deep-sea stations encompassing the entire Mediterranean basin. The numbers of viruses were very low (range, 3.6 x 10(7) to 12.0 x 10(7) viruses g(-1)) and decreased eastward. The virus-to-bacterium ratio was always < 1.0, indicating that the deep-sea sediments of the Mediterranean Sea are the first example of a marine ecosystem not numerically dominated by viruses. The lowest virus numbers were found where the lowest bacterial metabolism and turnover rates and the largest cell size were observed, suggesting that bacterial doubling time might play an important role in benthic virus development.

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