Global climate change-induced warming of the Artic seas is predicted to shift the phytoplankton community towards dominance of smaller-sized species due to global warming. Yet, little is known about their viral mortality agents despite the ecological importance of viruses regulating phytoplankton host dynamics and diversity. Here we report the isolation and basic characterization of four prasinoviruses infectious to the common Arctic picophytoplankter Micromonas. We furthermore assessed how temperature influenced viral infectivity and production. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the putative double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) Micromonas polaris viruses (MpoVs) are prasinoviruses (Phycodnaviridae) of approximately 120 nm in particle size. One MpoV showed intrinsic differences to the other three viruses, i.e., larger genome size (205 ± 2 vs. 191 ± 3 Kb), broader host range, and longer latent period (39 vs. 18 h). Temperature increase shortened the latent periods (up to 50%), increased the burst size (up to 40%), and affected viral infectivity. However, the variability in response to temperature was high for the different viruses and host strains assessed, likely affecting the Arctic picoeukaryote community structure both in the short term (seasonal cycles) and long term (global warming).
Keywords: Arctic algal viruses; Micromonas virus; climate change; infectivity; prasinovirus; temperature; virus-host interactions.