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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME 28:105-115 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/ame028105

Virus-like particle analysis in a seston-rich coastal pond using transmission electron microscopy

H. Montanié1,*, H. J. Hartmann1, C. Crottereau2, C. Trichet1

1Laboratoire de Biologie et Environnement Marins, EA 3168, Université de La Rochelle, Avenue Michel Crépeau, 17042 La Rochelle, France
2CNRS/IFREMER, Unité mixte de recherche 10, Centre de Recherche en Ecologie Marine et Aquaculture L¹Houmeau, BP 5, 17137 La Rochelle, France

ABSTRACT: A method was developed to analyse virus-like particles (VLPs) in seston-rich waters and to quantify their dynamics in a coastal marsh of the Bay of Biscay, French Atlantic coast. The method combined clarification and concentration steps with electron microscopy to obtain information on particle abundance, type and size distribution (e.g. presence of tailed phages, Fuselloviridae, etc.). The mean recovery rates of T2-phages using this method were 71 to 79%, higher than other published rates. The transmission electron microscopy (TEM) counts were validated with T2 plaque lysis assay and epifluorescent (DAPI-stained) particle counting: the TEM method was valid for environmental particle concentrations above 1 to 2 x 106 VLP ml-1; TEM counts were lower than T2-plaque counts (TEM/lysis median = 0.293) but higher than DAPI counts (TEM/DAPI median = 2.39). The method was used to evaluate the coupling between viral and bacterial dynamics in a marsh pond during 2 months. The VLP abundance varied from 1 to 30 x 106 ml-1 and the viral population was dominated by small particles (20 to 64 nm). Tailed phages, identified as bacteriophages, were always less abundant than non-tailed VLPs (4 to 23% of total virus), yet their dynamics were better linked with bacterial development than those of total virus. Our results demonstrate that the best way to characterise bacterial lysis from virus in seston-rich coastal environments would be to study the dynamics of tailed phages and virus size-classes rather than the commonly applied total VLPs.

KEY WORDS: Virus enumeration · Seston-rich water · TEM · DAPI · Virus-bacteria dynamics

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