Viral and microbial community dynamics in four aquatic environments

ISME J. 2010 Jun;4(6):739-51. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2010.1. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


The species composition and metabolic potential of microbial and viral communities are predictable and stable for most ecosystems. This apparent stability contradicts theoretical models as well as the viral-microbial dynamics observed in simple ecosystems, both of which show Kill-the-Winner behavior causing cycling of the dominant taxa. Microbial and viral metagenomes were obtained from four human-controlled aquatic environments at various time points separated by one day to >1 year. These environments were maintained within narrow geochemical bounds and had characteristic species composition and metabolic potentials at all time points. However, underlying this stability were rapid changes at the fine-grained level of viral genotypes and microbial strains. These results suggest a model wherein functionally redundant microbial and viral taxa are cycling at the level of viral genotypes and virus-sensitive microbial strains. Microbial taxa, viral taxa, and metabolic function persist over time in stable ecosystems and both communities fluctuate in a Kill-the-Winner manner at the level of viral genotypes and microbial strains.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Archaea / genetics
  • Archaea / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • DNA, Archaeal / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Ecosystem*
  • Fresh Water / microbiology
  • Genomic Library
  • Genotype
  • Metagenome*
  • Salinity
  • Time Factors
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / growth & development*
  • Water Microbiology*


  • DNA, Archaeal
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Viral