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Keywords:

  • Antarctic;
  • bacteria;
  • virus;
  • activity;
  • viability;
  • freshwaters

Abstract

The influence of biotic and environmental variables on the abundance of virus-like particles (VLP) and lysogeny was investigated by examining 10 Antarctic lakes in the Vestfold Hills, Antarctica, in the Austral Spring. Abundances of viruses and bacteria and bacterial metabolic activity were estimated using SYBR Gold (Molecular Probes), Baclight (Molecular Probes) and 6-carboxy fluorescein diacetate (6CFDA). Total bacterial abundances among the lakes ranged between 0.12 and 0.47 × 109 cells L−1. The proportion of intact bacteria (SYTO® 9-stained cells) ranged from 13.5% to 83.5% of the total while active (6CFDA-stained) bacteria ranged from 33% to 116%. Lysogeny, as determined with Mitomycin C, was only detected in one of the lakes surveyed, indicating that viral replication was occurring predominately via the lytic cycle. Principal component analysis and confirmatory correlation analysis of individual variables showed that high abundances of VLP occurred in lakes of high conductivity with high concentrations of soluble reactive phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon. These lakes supported high concentrations of chlorophyll a, intact bacteria, rates of bacterial production and virus to bacteria ratios. Thus, it was suggested that viral abundance in the Antarctic lakes was determined by the trophic status of the lake and the resultant abundance of intact bacterial hosts.