MEPS 555:13-27 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11805

Differential gene expression is tied to photochemical efficiency reduction in virally infected Emiliania huxleyi

Ilana C. Gilg1, Stephen D. Archer1, Sheri A. Floge1,2, David M. Fields1, Alex I. Vermont1, Anna H. Leavitt1, William H. Wilson1,3, Joaquín Martínez Martínez1,*

1Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, 60 Bigelow Dr., East Boothbay, ME 04544, USA
2Present address: Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Riffe Building, 496 W 12th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, USA
3Present address: Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), The Laboratory, Citadel Hill, Plymouth PL1 2PB, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Photophysiological changes in phytoplankton have important implications for the structure and function of planktonic communities and ocean biogeochemistry. Viruses have been shown to decrease photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) of Emiliania huxleyi late in infection, although the precise timing and mechanism of this reduction remain largely unexplored. We coupled high‑resolution temporal measurements of photosystem II (PSII) efficiency during coccolithovirus EhV-86 infection with expression of host psbA (D1), PSII assembly and repair genes (ctpA, ftsH, and HCF136), and antioxidant genes (ascorbate peroxidase [apx] and superoxide dismutase [sod2]) using digital PCR. Fv/Fm declined significantly in infected cultures from 1.25 h post-inoculation (p.i.), while non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), measured as the normalized Stern-Volmer parameter, significantly increased from 4.0 h p.i. These changes were preceded by significant decreases in expression of ctpA and ftsH (25 min p.i.) and of HCF136 (1 h p.i.). Significant down-regulation of sod2 homologs and apx was observed later, starting at 1 to 3 h p.i. Our data suggest that virus-induced photophysiological changes may begin with a reduction in PSII repair and assembly, followed by a reduction in antioxidants that may result in an accumulation of damaged PSII complexes. Elevated NPQ during infection may help dissipate excess energy resulting from damage to PSII. This study illustrated that viral infection leads to a cascade of significant changes in the expression of genes assessed during this study, which may lead to the observed reduction in photosynthetic performance.


KEY WORDS: Coccolithovirus · EhV-86 · Digital PCR · Photochemical efficiency · PSII repair


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Cite this article as: Gilg IC, Archer SD, Floge SA, Fields DM and others (2016) Differential gene expression is tied to photochemical efficiency reduction in virally infected Emiliania huxleyi. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 555:13-27. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11805

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