ABSTRACT: Viruses are known as important mortality agents of marine microorganisms. Most studies focus on bacterial and algal viruses, and few reports exist on viruses infecting marine heterotrophic protists. Here we show results from several incubations initiated with a microbial assemblage from the central Indian Ocean and amended with different amounts of organic matter. Heterotrophic flagellates developed up to 30,000 cells ml(-1) in the most enriched incubation. A 18S rDNA clone library and fluorescent in situ hybridization counts with newly designed probes indicated that the peak was formed by Cafeteria roenbergensis and Caecitellus paraparvulus (90% and 10% of the cells respectively). Both taxa were below detection in the original sample, indicating a strong positive selective bias during the enrichment. During the peak, C. roenbergensis cells were observed with virus-like particles in the cytoplasm, and 4 days later this taxa could not be detected. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed the viral nature of these particles, which were large (280 nm), had double-stranded DNA, and were produced with a burst size of approximately 70. This virus was specific of C. roenbergensis as neither C. paraparvulus that was never seen infected, nor other flagellate taxa that developed in later stages of the incubation, appeared attacked. This is one of the few reports on a heterotrophic flagellate virus and the implications of this finding in the Indian Ocean are discussed.
Environmental Microbiology 12/2007; 9(11):2660-9. · 5.84 Impact Factor