Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Phytoplankton host – virus interactions under different growth condition

Viruses are important regulators of phytoplankton population dynamics and species succession. It is now becoming clear that environmental factors such as light, temperature and salinity affect host-virus interactions. The effects of global climate change include change in water column mixing regimes and consequently light intensity and duration. However, it is not known how such changes to the environment due to global climate change, will alter virus-host dynamics. We conduct detailed laboratory studies aimed at unraveling how alterations in environmental parameters can affect phytoplankton host-virus infection dynamics and virus production.

These experiments involve semi-continuous culturing of the algal host species under various growth regimes, whereby variables such as for example algal abundances using flow cytometry, primary production using oxygen optode, pigment composition using HPLC are sampled and analyzed. After viral infection, the infection cycle is then closely monitored for virus and algal host abundances, phytoplankton viability and photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm), the infectivity of the virus, and potentially absorbance of virus to host. The latent period, yield, and burst size will be determined. In addition, progeny virus will be analyzed for infectivity. If time allows, follow-up experiments under co-stressor conditions (more than one physicochemical variable changed) or with different virus types / host strains are possible. 


If you are a MSc student and interested in this project, please contact Prof. Dr Corina Brussaard (