MEPS 262:71-80 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/meps262071

Effects of virus infection on respiration rates of marine phytoplankton and microplankton communities

Yoanna Eissler1,*, Elisabeth Sahlsten3, Renato A. Quiñones1,2

1Centro de Investigación Oceanográfica en el Pacifico Sur-Oriental (COPAS), and
2Departamento de Oceanografía, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 160-C, Concepción, Chile
3Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Nya Varvet 31, 426 71 Västra Frölunda, Sweden

ABSTRACT: The possible influence of viral infection on respiration rates in marine microbial pelagic communities was assessed by means of 3 experiments on respiration rate with viral concentrate addition on single-species cultures of Mantoniella sp. and Micromonas pusilla and another 3 on natural microplankton communities (organisms <200 µm) from the Kattegat Sea (Åstol) and the Baltic Sea. Coastal surface seawater samples were taken during cruises of the RVs ŒAncylus¹ and ŒArgos¹ during winter and spring 2000. Approximately 50 to 70 l of seawater were concentrated by ultrafiltration. The experiments were started by adding a viral particle concentrate to a container with algae or a natural microplankton community; a control container was kept free of the viral concentrate addition. Oxygen concentration determinations were carried out on each treatment and control to measure respiration rates throughout the incubation period. The in vivo chlorophyll a fluorescence was also monitored as an indication of algal infection. The rates of respiration indicated that the addition of the viral particle concentrate affected the respective metabolisms of the Mantoniella sp. and Micromonas pusilla cultures as well as natural microplankton communities. Viral infection decreased the Mantoniella sp. respiration rate (by 96%) and increased the Micromonas pusilla respiration rate (by 235%). Hence, if our results can be extrapolated to nature, then, at least in a bloom situation, the fate of primary production and carbon fluxes could be strongly modulated by viral infection. The addition of a viral particle concentrate to the microplankton community generated complex responses in terms of respiration rates, which increased (by 84%) or remained similar to the controls. Our results suggest that viral infection of microplanktonic organisms could be one of the factors significantly modifying pelagic carbon fluxes.

KEY WORDS: Respiration · Marine viruses · Microalgae · Virus infection · Kattegat · Baltic Sea

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