Seasonal time bombs: Dominant temperate viruses affect Southern Ocean microbial dynamics

Jennifer R. Brum, Bonnie L. Hurwitz, Oscar Schofield, Hugh W. Ducklow, Matthew B. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rapid warming in the highly productive western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) region of the Southern Ocean has affected multiple trophic levels, yet viral influences on microbial processes and ecosystem function remain understudied in the Southern Ocean. Here we use cultivation-independent quantitative ecological and metagenomic assays, combined with new comparative bioinformatic techniques, to investigate double-stranded DNA viruses during the WAP spring-summer transition. This study demonstrates that (i) temperate viruses dominate this region, switching from lysogeny to lytic replication as bacterial production increases, and (ii) Southern Ocean viral assemblages are genetically distinct from lower-latitude assemblages, primarily driven by this temperate viral dominance. This new information suggests fundamentally different virus-host interactions in polar environments, where intense seasonal changes in bacterial production select for temperate viruses because of increased fitness imparted by the ability to switch replication strategies in response to resource availability. Further, temperate viral dominance may provide mechanisms (for example, bacterial mortality resulting from prophage induction) that help explain observed temporal delays between, and lower ratios of, bacterial and primary production in polar versus lower-latitude marine ecosystems. Together these results suggest that temperate virus-host interactions are critical to predicting changes in microbial dynamics brought on by warming in polar marine systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-449
Number of pages13
JournalISME Journal
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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