Posts Tagged 'virus'

Ocean acidification induces changes in virus–host relationships in Mediterranean benthic ecosystems

Acidified marine systems represent “natural laboratories”, which provide opportunities to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification on different living components, including microbes. Here, we compared the benthic microbial response in four naturally acidified sites within the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea characterized by different acidification sources (i.e., CO2 emissions at Ischia, mixed gases at Panarea and Basiluzzo and acidified freshwater from karst rocks at Presidiana) and pH values. We investigated prokaryotic abundance, activity and biodiversity, viral abundance and prokaryotic infections, along with the biochemical composition of the sediment organic matter. We found that, despite differences in local environmental dynamics, viral life strategies change in acidified conditions from mainly lytic to temperate lifestyles (e.g., chronic infection), also resulting in a lowered impact on prokaryotic communities, which shift towards (chemo)autotrophic assemblages, with lower organic matter consumption. Taken together, these results suggest that ocean acidification exerts a deep control on microbial benthic assemblages, with important feedbacks on ecosystem functioning.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification induces changes in virus–host relationships in Mediterranean benthic ecosystems’

A review of the potential effects of climate change on disseminated neoplasia with an emphasis on efficient detection in marine bivalve populations


  • Ocean warming is likely to favour disseminated neoplasia outbreaks.
  • The effect of seasonality on disseminated neoplasia seems species specific.
  • Detailed prevalence and environmental data are required to understand outbreak dynamics.
  • State of the art detection methods will be of key importance to obtain insights.


Climate change not only directly impacts marine environments by shifting water temperatures, salinity, pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations, but may also indirectly contribute to the emergence of additional ecosystem stressors, such as infectious diseases, including bivalve disseminated neoplasia. Disseminated neoplasia, a form of cancer found in some bivalves – recently discovered to be transmissible in at least six species – has been shown to impair bivalve health and fitness, with occasional mass outbreaks causing high levels of mortality. As the ability of the host bivalve to respond to disseminated neoplasia, and the survival and transmissibility of disseminated neoplasia both depend on environmental factors, it is crucial to understand the interaction between climate change and disseminated neoplasia epidemiology. Furthermore, with bivalves being species of high ecological and economic importance, there is a rising need for the development of efficient disseminated neoplasia detection tools in order to explore potential effects, mitigate and potentially prevent deleterious disseminated neoplasia outbreaks. Therefore, in this study, we reviewed the current knowledge of climate impacted environmental parameters on disseminated neoplasia and identified good practices and methodology for the detection of transmissible disseminated neoplasia in the wild. By exploring the potential effects changing climate has on disseminated neoplasia dynamics, we identified future research directions in order to advance the field. This included using state of the art disease detection methods and taking in account species’ ecological niches to understand the dynamic of disseminated neoplasia outbreaks in the wild and to investigate whether disseminated neoplasia is present in freshwater ecosystems. Finally, we provided a comprehensive step-by-step guideline for an evidence-based detection of this disease in marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘A review of the potential effects of climate change on disseminated neoplasia with an emphasis on efficient detection in marine bivalve populations’

Potential impact of global climate change on benthic deep-sea microbes

Benthic deep-sea environments are the largest ecosystem on Earth, covering ∼65% of the Earth surface. Microbes inhabiting this huge biome at all water depths represent the most abundant biological components and a relevant portion of the biomass of the biosphere, and play a crucial role in global biogeochemical cycles. Increasing evidence suggests that global climate changes are affecting also deep-sea ecosystems, both directly (causing shifts in bottom-water temperature, oxygen concentration and pH) and indirectly (through changes in surface oceans’ productivity and in the consequent export of organic matter to the seafloor). However, the responses of the benthic deep-sea biota to such shifts remain largely unknown. This applies particularly to deep-sea microbes, which include bacteria, archaea, microeukaryotes and their viruses. Understanding the potential impacts of global change on the benthic deep-sea microbial assemblages and the consequences on the functioning of the ocean interior is a priority to better forecast the potential consequences at global scale. Here we explore the potential changes in the benthic deep-sea microbiology expected in the coming decades using case studies on specific systems used as test models.

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Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

Combined effects of elevated pCO2 and warming facilitate Cyanophage infections

Elevated pCO2 and warming are generally expected to influence cyanobacterial growth, and may promote the formation of blooms. Yet, both climate change factors may also influence cyanobacterial mortality by favoring pathogens, such as viruses, which will depend on the ability of the host to adapt. To test this hypothesis, we grew Plectonema boryanum IU597 under two temperature (25 and 29°C) and two pCO2 (400 and 800 μatm) conditions for 1 year, after which all treatments were re-exposed to control conditions for a period of 3 weeks. At several time points during the 1 year period, and upon re-exposure, we measured various infection characteristics of it associated cyanophage PP, including the burst size, latent period, lytic cycle and the efficiency of plaquing (EOP). As expected, elevated pCO2 promoted growth of P. boryanumequally over the 1 year period, but warming did not. Burst size increased in the warm treatment, but decreased in both the elevated pCO2 and combined treatment. The latent period and lytic cycle both became shorter in the elevated pCO2 and higher temperature treatment, and were further reduced by the combined effect of both factors. Efficiency of plaquing (EOP) decreased in the elevated pCO2 treatment, increased in the warm treatment, and increased even stronger in the combined treatment. These findings indicate that elevated pCO2 enhanced the effect of warming, thereby further promoting the virus infection rate. The re-exposure experiments demonstrate adaptation of the host leading to higher biomass build-up with elevated pCO2 over the experimental period, and lower performance upon re-exposure to control conditions. Similarly, virus burst size and EOP increased when given warm adapted host, but were lower as compared to the control when the host was re-exposed to control conditions. Our results demonstrate that adaptation but particularly physiological acclimation to climate change conditions favored viral infections, while limited host plasticity and slow adaptation after re-exposure to control conditions impeded host biomass build-up and viral infections.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of elevated pCO2 and warming facilitate Cyanophage infections’

Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH. Increasing evidence indicates that these changes – summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA) – can significantly affect marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles. However, current scientific knowledge is largely based on laboratory experiments with single species and artificial boundary conditions, whereas studies of natural plankton communities are still relatively rare. Moreover, the few existing community-level studies were mostly conducted in rather eutrophic environments, while less attention has been paid to oligotrophic systems such as the subtropical ocean gyres.

Here we report from a recent in situ mesocosm experiment off the coast of Gran Canaria in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic, where we investigated the influence of OA on the ecology and biogeochemistry of plankton communities in oligotrophic waters under close-to-natural conditions. This paper is the first in this Research Topic of Frontiers in Marine Biogeochemistry and provides (1) a detailed overview of the experimental design and important events during our mesocosm campaign, and (2) first insights into the ecological responses of plankton communities to simulated OA over the course of the 62-day experiment.

One particular scientific objective of our mesocosm experiment was to investigate how OA impacts might differ between oligotrophic conditions and phases of high biological productivity, which regularly occur in response to upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water in the study region. Therefore, we specifically developed a deep water collection system that allowed us to obtain ~85 m3 of seawater from ~650 m depth. Thereby, we replaced ~20% of each mesocosm’s volume with deep water, and thus successfully simulated a deep water upwelling event that induced a pronounced plankton bloom.

Our study revealed significant effects of OA on the entire food web, leading to a restructuring of plankton communities that emerged during the oligotrophic phase, and was further amplified during the bloom that developed in response to deep water addition. Such CO2-related shifts in plankton community composition could have consequences for ecosystem productivity, biomass transfer to higher trophic levels, and biogeochemical element cycling of oligotrophic ocean regions.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study’

Change in Emiliania huxleyi virus assemblage diversity but not in host genetic composition during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment

Effects of elevated pCO2 on Emiliania huxleyi genetic diversity and the viruses that infect E. huxleyi (EhVs) have been investigated in large volume enclosures in a Norwegian fjord. Triplicate enclosures were bubbled with air enriched with CO2 to 760 ppmv whilst the other three enclosures were bubbled with air at ambient pCO2; phytoplankton growth was initiated by the addition of nitrate and phosphate. E. huxleyi was the dominant coccolithophore in all enclosures, but no difference in genetic diversity, based on DGGE analysis using primers specific to the calcium binding protein gene (gpa) were detected in any of the treatments. Chlorophyll concentrations and primary production were lower in the three elevated pCO2 treatments than in the ambient treatments. However, although coccolithophores numbers were reduced in two of the high-pCO2 treatments; in the third, there was no suppression of coccolithophores numbers, which were very similar to the three ambient treatments. In contrast, there was considerable variation in genetic diversity in the EhVs, as determined by analysis of the major capsid protein (mcp) gene. EhV diversity was much lower in the high-pCO2 treatment enclosure that did not show inhibition of E. huxleyi growth. Since virus infection is generally implicated as a major factor in terminating phytoplankton blooms, it is suggested that no study of the effect of ocean acidification in phytoplankton can be complete if it does not include an assessment of viruses.

Continue reading ‘Change in Emiliania huxleyi virus assemblage diversity but not in host genetic composition during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment’

Special edition of Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science – “Ocean acidification in the Mediterranean Sea: pelagic mesocosm experiments”

The topic of ocean acidification has received extensive attention in a recently published special edition of the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Volume 186, Part A presents a series of 12 research papers focusing on pelagic mesocosm experiments conducted in the Mediterranean Sea in 2012 and 2013. Plankton plays a key role in the global carbon cycle. It is therefore important to project the evolution of plankton community structure and function in a future high-CO2 world. Several results from experiments conducted at the community level have shown increased rates of community primary production and shifts in community composition as a function of increasing pCO2. However, the great majority of these – experiments have been performed under high natural or nutrient-enriched conditions and very few data are available in areas with naturally low levels of nutrient and chlorophyll i.e. oligotrophic areas such as the Mediterranean Sea, although they represent a large and expanding part of the ocean surface. In the frame of the European Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate project (MedSeA;, large-scale in situ mesocosms (9 x 50 m3, 12 m deep) have been used to quantify the potential effects of CO2 enrichment in two coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea: the bay of Calvi (Corsica, France) in June/July 2012 and the bay of Villefranche (France) in February/March 2013. These two experiments gathered the expertise of more than 25 scientists from 7 institutes and 6 countries (France, Greece, Spain, UK, Italy, Belgium, US).

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Ocean acidification and viral replication cycles: Frequency of lytically infected and lysogenic cells during a mesocosm experiment in the NW Mediterranean Sea

The frequency of lytically infected and lysogenic cells (FLIC and FLC, respectively) was estimated during an in situ mesocosm experiment studying the impact of ocean acidification on the plankton community of a low nutrient low chlorophyll (LNLC) system in the north-western Mediterranean Sea (Bay of Villefranche, France) in February/March 2013. No direct effect of elevated partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) on viral replication cycles could be detected. FLC variability was negatively correlated to heterotrophic bacterial and net community production as well as the ambient bacterial abundance, confirming that lysogeny is a prevailing life strategy under unfavourable-for-the-hosts conditions. Further, the phytoplankton community, assessed by chlorophyll a concentration and the release of >0.4 μm transparent exopolymeric particles, was correlated with the occurrence of lysogeny, indicating a possible link between photosynthetic processes and bacterial growth. Higher FLC was found occasionally at the highest pCO2-treated mesocosm in parallel to subtle differences in the phytoplankton community. This observation suggests that elevated pCO2 could lead to short-term alterations in lysogenic dynamics coupled to phytoplankton-derived processes. Correlation of FLIC with any environmental parameter could have been obscured by the sampling time or the synchronization of lysis to microbial processes not assessed in this experiment. Furthermore, alterations in microbial and viral assemblage composition and gene expression could be a confounding factor. Viral-induced modifications in organic matter flow affect bacterial growth and could interact with ocean acidification with unpredictable ecological consequences.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and viral replication cycles: Frequency of lytically infected and lysogenic cells during a mesocosm experiment in the NW Mediterranean Sea’

Shifts in the microbial community in the Baltic Sea with increasing CO2

Ocean acidification, due to dissolution of anthropogenically produced carbon dioxide is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. The Baltic Sea, with extremely low salinity and thus low pH buffering capacity, is likely to experience stronger variation in pH than the open ocean with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. We examined the effects of ocean acidification on the microbial community during summer using large volume in situ mesocosms to simulate present to future and far future scenarios. We saw distinct trends with increasing CO2 in each of the 6 groups of phytoplankton with diameters below 20 μm that we enumerated by flow cytometry. Of these groups two picoeukaryotic groups increased in abundance whilst the other groups, including prokaryotic Synechococcus spp., decreased with increasing CO2. Gross growth rates increased with increasing CO2 in the dominant picoeukaryote group sufficient to double their abundances whilst reduced grazing allowed the other picoeukaryotes to flourish at higher CO2. Significant increases in lysis rates were seen at higher CO2 in these two picoeukaryote groups. Converting abundances to particulate organic carbon we saw a large shift in the partitioning of carbon between the size fractions which lasted throughout the experiment. The heterotrophic prokaryotes largely followed the algal biomass with responses to increasing CO2 reflecting the altered phytoplankton community dynamics. Similarly, higher viral abundances at higher CO2 seemed related to increased prokaryote biomass. Viral lysis and grazing were equally important controlling prokaryotic abundances. Overall our results point to a shift towards a more regenerative system with potentially increased productivity but reduced carbon export.

Continue reading ‘Shifts in the microbial community in the Baltic Sea with increasing CO2’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book