Changes in viral and bacterial communities during the ice-melting season in the coastal Arctic (Kongsfjorden, Ny-Alesund)

Daniele De Corte, Eva Sintes Elvelin, Taichi Yokokawa, Gerhard Herndl

Microbial communities in Arctic coastal waters experience dramatic changes in environmental conditions during the spring to summer transition period, potentially leading to major variations in the relationship between viral and prokaryotic communities. To document these variations, a number of physico-chemical and biological parameters were determined during the ice-melting season in the coastal Arctic (Kongsfjorden, Ny-Alesund, Spitsbergen). The bacterial and viral abundance increased during the spring to summer transition period, probably associated to the increase in temperature and the development of a phytoplankton bloom. The increase in viral abundance was less pronounced than the increase in prokaryotic abundance; consequently, the viral to prokaryotic abundance ratio decreased. The bacterial and viral communities were stratified as determined by Automated Ribosomal Intergenic Spacer Analysis and Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA-PCR respectively. Both the bacterial and viral communities were characterized by a relatively low number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Despite the apparent low complexity of the bacterial and viral communities, the link between these two communities was weak over the melting season, as suggested by the different trends of prokaryotic and viral abundance during the sampling period. This weak relationship between the two communities might be explained by UV radiation and suspended particles differently affecting the viruses and prokaryotes in the coastal Arctic during this period. Based on our results, we conclude that the viral and bacterial communities in the Arctic were strongly affected by the variability of the environmental conditions during the transition period between spring and summer.

External organisation(s)
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Environmental Microbiology
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106001 General biology
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