UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Nutrients and Other Environmental Factors Influence Virus Abundances across Oxic and Hypoxic Marine Environments Finke, Jan F.; Hunt, Brian P. V.; Winter, Christian; Carmack, Eddy C.; Suttle, Curtis A.


Virus particles are highly abundant in seawater and, on average, outnumber microbial cells approximately 10-fold at the surface and 16-fold in deeper waters; yet, this relationship varies across environments. Here, we examine the influence of a suite of environmental variables, including nutrient concentrations, salinity and temperature, on the relationship between the abundances of viruses and prokaryotes over a broad range of spatial and temporal scales, including along a track from the Northwest Atlantic to the Northeast Pacific via the Arctic Ocean, and in the coastal waters of British Columbia, Canada. Models of varying complexity were tested and compared for best fit with the Akaike Information Criterion, and revealed that nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations, as well as prokaryote abundances, either individually or combined, had significant effects on viral abundances in all but hypoxic environments, which were only explained by a combination of physical and chemical factors. Nonetheless, multivariate models of environmental variables showed high explanatory power, matching or surpassing that of prokaryote abundance alone. Incorporating both environmental variables and prokaryote abundances into multivariate models significantly improved the explanatory power of the models, except in hypoxic environments. These findings demonstrate that environmental factors could be as important as, or even more important than, prokaryote abundance in describing viral abundance across wide-ranging marine environments

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