Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 28 (2), 237-43

The Significance of Viruses to Mortality in Aquatic Microbial Communities


The Significance of Viruses to Mortality in Aquatic Microbial Communities

C A Suttle. Microb Ecol.


A variety of approaches including enumeration of visibly infected microbes, removal of viral particles, decay of viral infectivity, and measurements of viral production rates have been used to infer the impact of viruses on microbial mortality. The results are surprisingly consistent and suggest that, on average, about 20% of marine heterotrophic bacteria are infected by viruses and 10-20% of the bacterial community is lysed daily by viruses. The effect of viruses on phytoplankton is less certain, but ca. 3% of Synechococcus biomass may be lysed daily. The fraction of primary productivity this represents depends upon the relative biomass and growth rate of Synechococcus. Virus enrichment experiments suggest that the productivity of eukaryotic phytoplankton would be ca. 2% higher in the absence of viruses. Overall, probably about 2-3% of primary productivity is lost to viral lysis. There is considerable variation about these estimates; however, they represent a starting point for incorporating viral-mediated processes into aquatic ecosystem models.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 69 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Microb Ecol. 1993 Mar;25(2):161-82 - PubMed
    1. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Nov;58(11):3721-9 - PubMed
    1. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1993 Oct;59(10):3393-9 - PubMed
    1. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1976 Mar;31(3):415-22 - PubMed
    1. J Water Pollut Control Fed. 1975 Jan;47(1):93-103 - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources