Viruses in Antarctic lakes

Kepner, Raymond L., Robert A. Wharton, Curtis A. Suttle

Limnol. Oceanogr., 43(7), 1998, 1754-1761 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.1998.43.7.1754

ABSTRACT: Water samples collected from four perennially ice-covered Antarctic lakes during the austral summer of 1996-l997 contained high densities of extracellular viruses. Many of these viruses were found to be morphologically similar to double-stranded DNA viruses that are known to infect algae and protozoa. These constitute the first observations of viruses in perennially ice-covered polar lakes. The abundance of planktonic viruses and data suggesting substantial production potential (relative to bacterial secondary and photosynthetic primary production) indicate that viral lysis may be a major factor in the regulation of microbial populations in these extreme environments. Furthermore, we suggest that Antarctic lakes may be a reservoir of previously undescribed viruses that possess novel biological and biochemical characteristics.

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