AME 27:21-27 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/ame027021

A filterable lytic agent obtained from a red tide bloom that caused lysis of Karenia brevis (Gymnodinum breve) cultures

John H. Paul1,*, Lee Houchin1, Dale Griffin1, Terri Slifko1, Mike Guo2, Bill Richardson3, Karen Steidinger3

1College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 Seventh Ave. S., St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
2Center for Advanced Technology, Lakewood High School, 1400 54th Ave. S., St. Petersburg, Florida 33705, USA
3Florida Marine Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave SE, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA

ABSTRACT: A filterable lytic agent (FLA) was obtained from seawater in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico during a red tide bloom that caused lysis of Karenia brevis (formerly Gymnodinium breve) Piney Island. This agent was obtained from <0.2 μm filtrates that were concentrated by ultrafiltration using a 100 kDa filter. The FLA was propagated by passage on K. brevis cultures, and the filtered supernatants of such cultures resulted in K. brevis lysis when added to such cultures. The lytic activity was lost upon heating to 65°C or by 0.02 μm filtration. Epifluorescence and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of supernatants of K. brevis cultures treated with the lytic agent indicated a high abundance of viral particles (4 x 109 to 7 x 109 virus-like particles [VLPs] ml-1) compared to control cultures (~107 ml-1). However, viral particles were seldom found in TEM photomicrograph thin sections of lysing K. brevis cells. Although a virus specific for K. brevis may have been the FLA, other explanations such as filterable bacteria or bacteriophages specific for bacteria associated with the K. brevis cultures cannot be discounted.

KEY WORDS: Gymnodinium breve · Karenia brevis · Lytic agent · Viruses

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