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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2007 Aug;73(16):5245-52. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Virus attachment to transparent exopolymeric particles along trophic gradients in the southwestern lagoon of New Caledonia.

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IRD, Noumea Center, BP A5, NC-98848 Noumea, New Caledonia.


Viruses on organic aggregates such as transparent exopolymeric particles (TEP) are not well investigated. The number of TEP-attached viruses was assessed along trophic gradients in the southwestern lagoon of New Caledonia by determining the fraction of viruses removed after magnetic isolation of TEP. In order to isolate TEP magnetically, TEP were formed in the presence of magnetic beads from submicrometer precursors collected along the trophic gradients. The mixed aggregates of TEP-beads-viruses were removed from solution with a magnetic field. The percentage of viruses associated with newly formed TEP averaged 8% (range, 3 to 13%) for most of the stations but was higher (ca. 30%) in one bay characterized by the low renewal rate of its water mass. The number of viruses (N) attached to TEP varied as a function of TEP size (d [in micrometers]) according to the formulas N = 100d(1.60) and N = 230d(1.75), respectively, for TEP occurring in water masses with short (i.e., <40 days) and long (i.e., >40 days) residence times. These two relationships imply that viral abundance decreases with TEP size, and they indicate that water residence time influences viral density and virus-bacterium interactions within aggregates. Our data suggest that the fraction of viruses attached to TEP is highest in areas characterized by a low renewal rate of the water mass and can constitute at times a significant fraction of total virus abundance. Due to the small distance between viruses and hosts on TEP, these particles may be hot spots for viral infection.

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