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Viral mortality of the marine alga Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyceae) and termination of algal blooms
Bratbak, G.; Egge, J.K.; Heldal, M. (1993). Viral mortality of the marine alga Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyceae) and termination of algal blooms. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 93: 39-48
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Bratbak, G.
  • Egge, J.K., more
  • Heldal, M.

    The possible roles of viruses in phytoplankton dynamics were investigated in seawater mesocosms with natural assemblages of phytoplankton growing under various nutrient regimes. Blooms of the marine coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi (Lohmann) Hay & Mohler were in some cases succeeded by an increase in the abundance of a morphologically homogeneous population of viruses. The viruses had an hexagonal outline and were about 180 nm in diameter. Similar viruses were found both intracellularly and associated with apparently lysed cells. Viral lysis could account for 25 to 100 % of the net mortality of E. huxleyi when the blooms declined under non-limiting nutrient conditions or when the nitrate concentration was low. Production of viruses was limited when the phosphate concentration was low. During a bloom of E. huxleyi in Norwegian coastal waters in 1990 we found that the concentration of free algal viruses was increasing at the end of the bloom, indicating that viruses of E. huxleyi may be important under natural conditions as well. These results suggest that viral mortality of phytoplankton may be an important factor regulating community structure, diversity and biomass production in marine environments.

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