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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 14:1-6 (1998)  -  doi:10.3354/ame014001

Virus-mediated total release of dimethylsulfoniopropionate from marine phytoplankton: a potential climate process

Richard W. Hill1,*, Bradley A. White1, Matthew T. Cottrell2,**, John W. H. Dacey3

1Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA
2Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, Texas 78373, USA
3Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
**Present address: College of Marine Studies, University of Delaware, Lewes, Delaware 19958, USA

Growing, axenic cultures of the eukaryotic marine microalga Micromonas pusilla (Prasinophyceae) were inoculated with 0.7 infectious particles cell-1 of the viral pathogen MPV (Micromonas pusilla virus). Starting 11 to 14 h after the inoculation, rapid release of intracellular dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) to the dissolved pool occurred along with cell lysis. DMSP release was total. Release facilitates bacterial degradation of DMSP to dimethylsulfide, a gas that affects cloud cover over the oceans. Viruses of eukaryotic marine phytoplankton may thus participate in the biological shaping of global climate.

Dimethylsulfide · Dimethylsulfoniopropionate · Algal virus · Micromonas pusilla · MPV

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