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High viral infection rates in Antarctic and Arctic bacterioplankton


  • Christin Säwström,

    Corresponding author
    1. Climate Impacts Research Centre (CIRC), Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.
      *E-mail; Tel. (+46) 980 40162; Fax (+46) 980 40142.
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  • Wilhelm Granéli,

    1. Department of Limnology, Ecology Building, Lund University, Lund, S-223 62, Sweden.
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  • Johanna Laybourn-Parry,

    1. Institute for the Environment, Physical Sciences and Applied Mathematics, University of Keele, Staff., ST5 5BG, UK.
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  • Alexandre M. Anesio

    1. Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DA, UK.
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*E-mail; Tel. (+46) 980 40162; Fax (+46) 980 40142.


The frequency of visibly phage-infected bacterial cells (FVIB) and the average number of phages per cell [i.e. burst size (BS)] were determined in Antarctic and Arctic ultra-oligotrophic freshwater environments. Water samples were collected from two Antarctic freshwater lakes and cryoconite holes from a glacier in the Arctic. Data from this bipolar study show the highest FVIB (average 26.1%, range 5.1% to 66.7%) and the lowest BS (average 4, range 2–15) ever reported in the literature. The bacterial density is low in these ultra-oligotrophic freshwater environments but a large proportion of the bacteria are visibly infected. Our results suggest that a constant virioplankton population can be maintained in these extreme environments even though host density is low and often slow growing.

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