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Viruses as Partners in Spring Bloom Microbial Trophodynamics

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PMC
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  • General Microbial Ecology

Abstract

Population sizes of algae, bacteria, heterotrophic flagellates, and viruses were observed through the 1989 spring diatom bloom in Raunefjorden in western Norway. The culmination of the diatom bloom was followed by a peak in the concentration of bacteria and an increase in the concentration of heterotrophic flagellates, a pattern consistent with the concept of a food chain from photosynthetically produced organic material, through bacteria, to bacterivorous flagellates. The concentration of viruses varied through the spring bloom from 5 × 105 in the prebloom situation to a maximum of 1.3 × 107 viruses ml−1 1 week after the peak of the diatom bloom. Coinciding with the collapse in the diatom bloom, a succession of bacteria and viruses was observed in the mucous layer surrounding dead or senescent diatoms, with an estimated maximum of 23% of the total virus population attached to the diatoms. The dynamic behavior observed for the virus population rules out the possibility that it is dominated by inactive species, and the viruses are suggested to be active members of the microbial food web as agents causing lysis in parts of the bacterial population, diverting part of the bacterial production from the predatory food chain.

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