We completed a transect through the Western Pacific Warm Pool to examine how environmental variables may influence viral and bacterial abundance and production rates in this globally important oceanic region. Of the variables analyzed, viral abundance and production had the most significant relationship to bacterial cell abundance: viral parameters were not significantly correlated to the measured environmental variables, including temperature. Bacterial production rates were significantly correlated to temperature in open ocean waters, but not in waters close to land masses. Analyses of 16S rRNA gene by pyrosequencing indicated only minor changes in eubacterial community structure across the transect, with α-proteobacteria dominating all sampled populations. Diversity within the prokaryotic community did not correlate directly with viral abundance or activity. Comparisons to two other ocean-scale transects (> 8000 km of open ocean in total) in the Atlantic Ocean indicated that correlations between viral and bacterial abundance and production relative to environmental variables are regime dependent. In particular, correlations to temperature showed remarkable differences across the three transects. Collectively, our observations suggest that seemingly similar oceanic regions may have very different microbial community responses to environmental variables. Our observations and analyses demonstrate that ocean-scale generalizations may not apply in the case of viral ecology.
© 2011 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.