MEPS 164:125-133 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/meps164125

Prophage induction of indigenous marine lysogenic bacteria by environmental pollutants

Pamela K. Cochran, Christina A. Kellogg, John H. Paul*

Department of Marine Science, University of South Florida, 140 7th Ave. South, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701, USA
*Addressee for correspondence. E-mail:

Lysogenic bacteria may be abundant components of bacterial assemblages in marine waters. The tremendous number of viruses found in estuarine and other eutrophic environments may be the result in part of induction of prophages. Mitomycin C is the inducing agent of choice for prophage induction; however this is not naturally found in the marine environment. We determined the capability of environmentally important pollutants to effect prophage induction in natural populations of marine bacteria. We investigated Aroclor 1248, a PCB mixture, bunker C fuel oil #6, and a pesticide mixture as inducing agents for natural bacterial communities from the Gulf of Mexico. Mitomycin C was also employed as a positive control for induction. Induction was determined as a significant increase in viral direct counts compared to control and ranged from 149 to 1336% of the controls. Two-thirds of the environments sampled showed prophage induction by one of the methods utilized, with the PCB mixture and Aroclor 1248 giving the highest percent efficiency (75%) of induction. This study shows that many environmentally important pollutants may be inducing agents for natural lysogenic viral production in the marine environment.


Marine bacteriophage · Lysogeny · Gulf of Mexico · Pollution


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