Movement of viruses between biomes

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2004 Oct;70(10):5842-6. doi: 10.1128/AEM.70.10.5842-5846.2004.


Viruses are abundant in all known ecosystems. In the present study, we tested the possibility that viruses from one biome can successfully propagate in another. Viral concentrates were prepared from different near-shore marine sites, lake water, marine sediments, and soil. The concentrates were added to microcosms containing dissolved organic matter as a food source (after filtration to allow 100-kDa particles to pass through) and a 3% (vol/vol) microbial inoculum from a marine water sample (after filtration through a 0.45-microm-pore-size filter). Virus-like particle abundances were then monitored using direct counting. Viral populations from lake water, marine sediments, and soil were able to replicate when they were incubated with the marine microbes, showing that viruses can move between different ecosystems and propagate. These results imply that viruses can laterally transfer DNA between microbes in different biomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem*
  • Fresh Water / virology
  • Geologic Sediments / virology
  • Marine Biology
  • Seawater / microbiology
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Virus Replication
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • Water Microbiology