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Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2014;6:393-414. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010213-135108. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Antagonistic coevolution of marine planktonic viruses and their hosts.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697; email:


The potential for antagonistic coevolution between marine viruses and their (primarily bacterial) hosts is well documented, but our understanding of the consequences of this rapid evolution is in its infancy. Acquisition of resistance against co-occurring viruses and the subsequent evolution of virus host range in response have implications for bacterial mortality rates as well as for community composition and diversity. Drawing on examples from a range of environments, we consider the potential dynamics, underlying genetic mechanisms and fitness costs, and ecological impacts of virus-host coevolution in marine waters. Given that much of our knowledge is derived from laboratory experiments, we also discuss potential challenges and approaches in scaling up to diverse, complex networks of virus-host interactions. Finally, we note that a variety of novel approaches for characterizing virus-host interactions offer new hope for a mechanistic understanding of antagonistic coevolution in marine plankton.

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