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Marine viruses and their biogeochemical and ecological effects

Abstract

Viruses are the most common biological agents in the sea, typically numbering ten billion per litre. They probably infect all organisms, can undergo rapid decay and replenishment, and influence many biogeochemical and ecological processes, including nutrient cycling, system respiration, particle size-distributions and sinking rates, bacterial and algal biodiversity and species distributions, algal bloom control, dimethyl sulphide formation and genetic transfer. Newly developed fluorescence and molecular techniques leave the field poised to make significant advances towards evaluating and quantifying such effects.

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Figure 1: Fluorescence imaging of marine viruses.
Figure 2: The planktonic viral loop.
Figure 3: Modelling viral effects on carbon flow.

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Acknowledgements

I thank several individuals who have discussed the broad array of virus-related processes with me over the years and shared unpublished data, including F. Azam, L. Proctor, G. Bratbak, J. Paul, C. Suttle, R. Noble, F. Thingstad, G. Steward and R. Kiene. D. Comeau, B. Bohannan and D. Bird provided useful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the NSF and a USC Sea Grant.

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Fuhrman, J. Marine viruses and their biogeochemical and ecological effects. Nature 399, 541–548 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/21119

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