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Microb Ecol. 2008 Aug;56(2):383-9. Epub 2007 Dec 7.

Relationship of geographic distance, depth, temperature, and viruses with prokaryotic communities in the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean.

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University of British Columbia, EOS-Oceanography, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada.


The richness and biogeographical distribution pattern of bacterial and archaeal communities was assessed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of polymerase chain reaction-amplified fragments of the 16S rRNA gene at the surface (15-25 m depth), in the deep chlorophyll maximum layer (DCM; 50 m depth), and deep waters (75-1000 m depth) of the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, prokaryotic and viral abundance and the frequency of infected prokaryotic cells (FIC) were determined along with physico-chemical parameters to identify factors influencing prokaryotic richness and biogeography. Viral abundance was highest in the DCM layer averaging 45.5 x 10(6) ml(-1), whereas in the mixed surface layer and in the waters below the DCM, average viral abundance was 11.3 x 10(6) and 4.3 x 10(6) ml(-1), respectively. The average estimate of FIC was 8.3% in the mixed surface layer and the DCM and 2.4% in deeper waters. FIC was positively related to prokaryotic and viral abundance and negatively to archaeal richness. There was no detectable effect of geographic distance (maximum distance between stations approximately 4600 km) or differences between water masses on bacterial and archaeal community composition. Bacterial communities showed a clear depth zonation, whereas changes in archaeal community composition were related to temperature and FIC. The results indicate that planktonic archaeal virus host systems are a dynamic component of marine ecosystems under natural conditions.

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