Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014DE266B

Fine-Scale Temporal Dynamics of Estuarine Virioplankton and Bacterioplankton Populations

Institute: Delaware
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-06-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $3,500 Total Non-Federal Funds: $6,402

Principal Investigators: Eric Wommack

Abstract: Environmental virology is a fairly new field of study. In fact it was only recently discovered that viruses are abundant in marine environments, but it is already evident that they greatly impact ecosystem dynamics through infection of bacterial hosts. Viral lysis (i.e., the physical destruction of an infected cell at the end of the viral infection cycle) is a major source of mortality for bacterial populations. The release of organic matter and nutrients from lysed cells has a profound effect on ocean biogeochemistry and energy cycling. Viral predation also affects the structure of microbial communities by introducing new genetic traits through horizontal gene transfer and selective killing of dominant host taxa. The importance of viral predation in aquatic systems has encouraged the study of how host and viral communities change over varying geographical and temporal scales. Pronounced seasonal changes in viral community structures have been observed in the Chesapeake Bay and other places, but few studies have examined changes in viral communities over the course of hours and days, scales that are typical of a viral infection cycle. To address this gap in knowledge, this research will focus on analyzing viral concentrates from the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. The specific goal entails analyzing changes in viral taxa from these samplesto complement the bacterial sequencing and to determine the temporal variability of viral populations over short time scales, as well as integrate viral and bacterial community analyses to examine viral-host dynamics over the twenty-four hour experiment.