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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 23:103-111 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/ame023103

Isolation of a virus infecting the novel shellfish-killing dinoflagellate Heterocapsa circularisquama

Kenji Tarutani, Keizo Nagasaki*, Shigeru Itakura, Mineo Yamaguchi

Harmful Algal Bloom Division, National Research Institute of Fisheries and Environment of Inland Sea, 2-17-5 Maruishi, Ohno, Saeki, Hiroshima 739-0452, Japan
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: A virus infecting the novel shellfish-killing dinoflagellate Heterocapsa circularisquama (H. circularisquama Virus: HcV) was isolated from Japanese coastal waters in August 1999 during a H. circularisquama bloom. Transmission electron microscopy of ultrathin sections of infected H. circularisquama revealed the presence of intracellular virus-like particles 24 to 48 h after infection. The virus was icosahedral, lacking a tail, ca 180 to 210 nm (mean ± standard deviation = 197 ± 8 nm) in diameter and contained an electron-dense core. It was a double-stranded DNA virus, and the appearance of the virus particles was associated with a granular region (viroplasm) in the cytoplasm that did not appear within uninfected cells. The virus caused cell lysis of 18 strains of H. circularisquama isolated from various embayments throughout central and western Japan, but did not lyse 24 other phytoplankton species that were tested. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a virus infecting dinoflagellates which has been isolated and maintained in culture, and our results demonstrate that viruses which infect and cause lysis of dinoflagellates are a component of natural marine viral communities.

KEY WORDS: Dinoflagellate · Harmful algal bloom · HcV · Heterocapsa circularisquama · Viral infection

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