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Microb Ecol. 2003 Feb;45(2):109-18. Epub 2003 Jan 28.

Sunscreen products increase virus production through prophage induction in marine bacterioplankton.

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Institute of Marine Science, University of Ancona, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy.


Classical pollutants (e.g., hydrocarbon, pesticides) have been recently recognized to induce lytic cycle in lysogenic bacteria, but information on micro-pollutants is almost completely lacking. We investigated the effects of cosmetic sun products (sunscreen and solar oil) on viral abundance and bacterial activity. We found that both sunscreen and solar oil acted as pollutants, inducing viral development and controlling bacterial abundance and production, thus leading to an increase of the virus to bacterium ratio. Short-term experiments revealed that sunscreen supplementation induced the lytic cycle in a large fraction of total bacterial abundance (13-24% of bacteria, at low and high concentrations, respectively), whereas solar oil had a lower impact (6-9%). A synchronized development of the phage-host system was observed only after sunscreen addition. The addition of sunscreen, even at low concentrations, had a significant impact on all enzymatic activities (aminopeptidase, glucosidase, and phosphatase), which increased significantly. However, when enzymatic activities were normalized per cell, a selective enhancement was observed for certain enzymes (e.g., aminopeptidase) and inhibition for others (e.g., glucosidase). These results indicate that sunscreen products can modify C, N, and P biogeochemical cycling in seawater and increase virus abundance through prophage induction in marine bacterioplankton.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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