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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 50, No. 3 - Feature article
Coral spawn slick washing ashore and (inset) released coral-sperm bundles floating on the seawater surface at Heron Island in 2005. Photo: Christiana Damiano

Patten NL, Mitchell JG, Middelboe M, Eyre BD, Seuront L, Harrison PL, Glud RN


Bacterial and viral dynamics during a mass coral spawning period on the Great Barrier Reef


During mass coral spawning events, large quantities of energy rich gamete material are released into the reef system. Patten and co-workers found that the released spawn material stimulated microbial processes by inducing significant shifts in reef water and benthic bacterial and viral abundances. Scavenging by sedimenting coral spawn material is a direct mechanism removing bacteria and viruses from the water column. The immediate and strongly correlated responses of bacteria and viruses following organic matter input implies that viruses are important contributors to nutrient cycling processes in coral reefs.


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