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Microb Ecol. 2002 Mar;43(2):225-31. Epub 2002 Feb 8.

Lysogeny and lytic viral production during a bloom of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus spp.

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Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences (Oceanography), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Lytic viral production and lysogeny were investigated in cyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacteria during a bloom of Synechococcus spp. in a pristine fjord in British Columbia, Canada. Triplicate seawater samples were incubated with and without mitomycin C and the abundances of heterotrophic bacteria, cyanobacteria, total viruses and infectious cyanophage were followed over 24 h. Addition of mitomycin C led to increases in total viral abundance as well as the abundance of cyanophages infecting Synechococcus strain DC2. Given typical estimates of burst size, these increases were consistent with 80% of the heterotrophic bacteria and 0.6% of Synechococcus cells being inducible by the addition of mitomycin C. This is the highest percentage of lysogens reported for a natural microbial community and demonstrates induction in a marine Synechococcus population. It is likely that the cyanophage production following the addition of mitomycin C was much higher than that titered against a single strain of Synechococcus; hence this estimate is a minimum. In untreated seawater samples, lytic viral production was estimated to remove ca. 27% of the gross heterotrophic bacterial production, and a minimum of 1.0% of the gross cyanobacterial production. Our results demonstrate very high levels of lysogeny in the heterotrophic bacterial community, outside of an oligotrophic environment, and the presence of inducible lysogens in Synechococcus spp. during a naturally occurring bloom. These data emphasize the need for further examination of the factors influencing lytic and lysogenic viral infection in natural microbial communities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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