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Environ Microbiol. 2009 May;11(5):1181-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2008.01849.x.

Annual changes of bacterial mortality due to viruses and protists in an oligotrophic coastal environment (NW Mediterranean).

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Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.


The impact of viruses and protists on bacterioplankton mortality was examined monthly during 2 years (May 2005-April 2007) in an oligotrophic coastal environment (NW Mediterranean Sea). We expected that in such type of system, (i) bacterial losses would be caused mainly by protists, and (ii) lysogeny would be an important type of virus-host interaction. During the study period, viruses and grazers together were responsible for 50.6 +/- 40.1% day(-1) of bacterial standing stock losses (BSS) and 59.7 +/- 44.0% day(-1) of bacterial production losses (BP). Over the first year (May 2005-April 2006), protists were the principal cause of bacterial mortality, removing 29.9 +/- 20.4% day(-1) of BSS and 33.9 +/- 24.3% day(-1) of BP, whereas viral lysis removed 13.5 +/- 17.0% day(-1) of BSS and 12.3 +/- 12.3% day(-1) of BP. During the second year (May 2006-April 2007), viruses caused comparable bacterial losses (29.2 +/- 14.8% day(-1) of BSS and 40.9 +/- 20.7% day(-1) of BP) to protists (28.6 +/- 25.5% day(-1) of BSS and 32.4 +/- 20.0% day(-1) of BP). In 37% of cases higher losses of BP due to viruses than due to protists were found. Lysogenic infection was detected in 11 of 24 samplings. Contrary to our expectations, lytic infections dominated over the two years, and viruses resulted to be a significant source of bacterial mortality in this oligotrophic site.

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