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Impacts of Freshwater and Seawater Mixing on the Production and Decay of Virioplankton in a Subtropical Estuary

Wei Wei, Nannan Wang, Lanlan Cai, Chuanlun Zhang, Nianzhi Jiao, Rui Zhang
Microbial Ecology 2019 April 10
Virioplankton is an important component of the aquatic ecosystem and plays multiple ecological and biogeochemical roles. Although the spatial and temporal distributions and dynamics of virioplankton have been well investigated in riverine and marine environments, little is known about the dynamics and environmental controlling mechanisms of virioplankton in estuaries. In this study, viral abundance, production and decay were examined in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), one of the largest estuaries in China. The influences of freshwater and seawater mixing on viral ecological dynamics were evaluated with several cross-transplant experiments. In PRE, viral abundance, production and decay rates varied from 2.72 ± 0.09 to 27.5 ± 1.07 × 106  viruses ml-1 , 7.98 ± 2.33 to 16.27 ± 2.85% h-1 and 0.80 ± 0.23 to 3.74 ± 0.98% h-1 , respectively. When the riverine and marine microbial community were transferred into simulated brackish water, viral production rates were markedly inhibited by 83.8% and 47.3%, respectively. The decay of riverine and marine virioplankton was inhibited by 21.1% and 34.2%, respectively, in simulated brackish water. These results indicate change of estuarine environmental factors significantly alters the dynamics of riverine and marine virioplankton. In addition, the effects of mixing on viral production and decay differed between high- and low-fluorescence viruses. High-fluorescence viruses seemed more resistant to decay than low-fluorescence viruses, whereas the production of marine low-fluorescence viruses seemed more resistant to inhibition than that of marine high-fluorescence viruses. Together, these results provide new insights into the ecological dynamics of virioplankton in estuarine environments.


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