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ISME J. 2008 Nov;2(11):1112-21. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2008.73. Epub 2008 Aug 21.

Lysogenic virus-host interactions predominate at deep-sea diffuse-flow hydrothermal vents.

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University of Delaware, Graduate College of Marine Studies, Newark, DE 19711, USA.


The consequences of viral infection within microbial communities are dependent on the nature of the viral life cycle. Among the possible outcomes is the substantial influence of temperate viruses on the phenotypes of lysogenic prokaryotes through various forms of genetic exchange. To date, no marine microbial ecosystem has consistently shown a predisposition for containing significant numbers of inducible temperate viruses. Here, we show that deep-sea diffuse-flow hydrothermal vent waters display a consistently high incidence of lysogenic hosts and harbor substantial populations of temperate viruses. Genetic fingerprinting and initial metagenomic analyses indicate that temperate viruses in vent waters appear to be a less diverse subset of the larger virioplankton community and that these viral populations contain an extraordinarily high frequency of novel genes. Thus, it appears likely that temperate viruses are key players in the ecology of prokaryotes within the extreme geothermal ecosystems of the deep sea.

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