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Aquatic Microbial Ecology

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AME - Vol. 76 No. 2 - Feature article
Sargasso Sea viral communities at 0 and 100 m are similar in the well-mixed winter, but differ during summer water column stratification. Photo: Mya Breitbart and Dawn Goldsmith

Goldsmith DB, Brum JR, Hopkins M, Carlson CA, Breitbart M


Water column stratification structures viral community composition in the Sargasso Sea


Viral abundance in the Sargasso Sea follows an annually recurring seasonal pattern, in which uniform abundance in the winter’s well-mixed upper water column gives way to a subsurface peak in abundance during summer stratification. This study tested the hypothesis that the viral communities at the surface and at 100 m depth are similar in composition during the well-mixed period, while differences in the viruses occupying these two depths emerge in summer. Amplification and sequencing of three signature genes, as well as examination of RAPD PCR gel banding patterns, supported this hypothesis. Water density was a significant driver of viral community variability, demonstrating the importance of water column stratification for structuring viral community composition at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study Site.


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