Viral-mediated lysis of microbes and carbon release in the sub-Antarctic and Polar Frontal zones of the Australian Southern Ocean

Environ Microbiol. 2009 Nov;11(11):2924-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.02050.x. Epub 2009 Sep 16.


Viral production was determined in the sub-Antarctic zone (SAZ) to the southwest and southeast of Tasmania and in the Polar Frontal zone (PFZ) of the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean during Austral summer (January-February 2007). Concentrations of viruses were the lowest (6.6 x 10(9) particles l(-1)) in the PFZ and the highest (2.1 x 10(10) particles l(-1)) in the eastern SAZ where nutrient input from the East Australian Current (EAC) sustained higher concentrations of bacteria and bacterial production relative to the west. Rates of viral production in the PFZ (1.8 x 10(10) viruses l(-1) day(-1)) were lower than those in the western SAZ (2.5 x 10(10) viruses l(-1) day(-1)). Viral production in the eastern SAZ (2.2 x 10(11) viruses l(-1) day(-1)) was the highest recorded and was approximately one order of magnitude higher than at the other sites. In the western SAZ and PFZ, the percentage of available bacterial biomass lysed by viruses was similar (23.5% and 23% respectively) equating to the release of 3.3 and 2.3 microg carbon l(-1) day(-1) respectively (assuming a burst size of 50 viruses host(-1)). In the eastern SAZ the potential bacterial biomass lysed was higher (on average 40%) and corresponded to the release of 26.5 microg carbon l(-1) day(-1). These findings suggest the importance of the viral shunt in carbon cycling within these regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antarctic Regions
  • Bacteria / chemistry*
  • Bacteria / virology*
  • Bacteriolysis*
  • Bacteriophages / growth & development
  • Bacteriophages / isolation & purification
  • Bacteriophages / physiology*
  • Biomass
  • Carbon / metabolism*
  • Geography
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Tasmania
  • Viral Load
  • Water Microbiology*


  • Carbon