AME 60:233-246 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01428

Large-scale distribution patterns of virioplankton in the upper ocean

Yanhui Yang1,2,3, Chiaki Motegi1,2,4,5, Taichi Yokokawa2,6, Toshi Nagata1,2,3,*

1Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 164-8639, Japan
2Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Otsu, Shiga, 520-2113, Japan
3Present address: Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan
4Present address: Université Pierre et Marie Curie-Paris 6, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, BP 28, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer Cedex, France
5Present address: CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, BP 28, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer Cedex, France
6Present address: Department of Biological Oceanography, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Netherlands
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: We used flow cytometry to investigate large-scale distribution patterns of viruses and their subclusters in the upper 200 m water column of the central Pacific Ocean and the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean. The abundances of 3 groups of photoautotrophic picoplankton (APP), including Synechococcus, picoeukaryotes, and Prochlorococcus, accounted for a large fraction of viral abundance variability (r2 = 0.570, n = 354, p < 0.001). The relative contribution of the viral subcluster with high fluorescence intensity (HV) increased with increasing abundance of APP. These data are consistent with the notion that viruses infecting APP are abundant, and the HV subcluster might contain large numbers of these viruses especially in subtropical and tropical oceans. Relationships between viral abundance and biotic variables differed among regions, indicating that controls of virus-host systems are largely distinct among different oceanic regions. We found a conspicuous peak of viral abundance in the mid-latitude region of the North Pacific. This ‘viral hot spot’ coincided with a dissolved oxygen anomaly (the excess above saturation) indicated by negative values (–15 to –59 µmol kg–1) of apparent oxygen utilization. Our results support the notion that large-scale distribution patterns of viruses and their subclusters in the upper oceans are affected by a combined effect of host distributions and physical processes.


KEY WORDS: Virioplankton · Viral subclusters · Flow cytometry · Photoautotrophic picoplankton · Pacific Ocean · Southern Ocean


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Cite this article as: Yang Y, Motegi C, Yokokawa T, Nagata T (2010) Large-scale distribution patterns of virioplankton in the upper ocean. Aquat Microb Ecol 60:233-246. https://doi.org/10.3354/ame01428

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