Large-scale distribution of microbial and viral populations in the South Atlantic Ocean

Daniele De Corte, Eva Sintes, Taichi Yokokawa, Itziar Lekunberri, Gerhard J. Herndl

Viruses are abundant, diverse and dynamic components of the marine environments and play a significant role in the ocean biogeochemical cycles. To assess potential variations in the relation between viruses and microbes in different geographic regions and depths, viral and microbial abundance and production were determined throughout the water column along a latitudinal transect in the South Atlantic Ocean. Path analysis was used to examine the relationships between several abiotic and biotic parameters and the different microbial and viral populations distinguished by flow cytometry. The depth-integrated contribution of microbial and viral abundance to the total microbial and viral biomass differed significantly among the different provinces. Additionally, the virus-to-microbe ratio increased with depth and decreased laterally towards the more productive regions. Our data revealed that the abundance of phytoplankton and microbes is the main controlling factor of the viral populations in the euphotic and mesopelagic layers, whereas in the bathypelagic realm, viral abundance was only weakly related to the biotic and abiotic variables. The relative contribution of the three viral populations distinguished by flow cytometry showed a clear geographical pattern throughout the water column, suggesting that these populations are composed of distinct taxa able to infect specific hosts. Overall, our data indicate the presence of distinct microbial patterns along the latitudinal transect. This variability is not limited to the euphotic layer but also detectable in the meso- and bathypelagic layers.

Functional and Evolutionary Ecology
External organisation(s)
Ehime University, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Environmental Microbiology Reports
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106021 Marine biology
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