A simple and efficient method for concentration of ocean viruses by chemical flocculation

Environ Microbiol Rep. 2011 Apr;3(2):195-202. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2010.00208.x.


Ocean viruses alter ecosystems through host mortality, horizontal gene transfer and by facilitating remineralization of limiting nutrients. However, the study of wild viral populations is limited by inefficient and unreliable concentration techniques. Here, we develop a new technique to recover viruses from natural waters using iron-based flocculation and large-pore-size filtration, followed by resuspension of virus-containing precipitates in a pH 6 buffer. Recovered viruses are amenable to gene sequencing, and a variable proportion of phages, depending upon the phage, retain their infectivity when recovered. This Fe-based virus flocculation, filtration and resuspension method (FFR) is efficient (> 90% recovery), reliable, inexpensive and adaptable to many aspects of marine viral ecology and genomics research.