Microbial Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 348–357 | Cite as

The Physical Environment Affects Cyanophage Communities in British Columbia Inlets

  • C. M. Frederickson
  • S. M. Short
  • C. A. SuttleEmail author


Little is known about the natural distribution of viruses that infect the photosynthetically important group of marine prokaryotes, the cyanobacteria. The current investigation reveals that the structure of cyanophage communities is dependent on water column structure. PCR was used to amplify a fragment of the cyanomyovirus gene (g) 20, which codes for the portal vertex protein. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) of PCR amplified g20 gene fragments was used to examine variations in cyanophage community structure in three inlets in British Columbia, Canada. Qualitative examination of denaturing gradient gels revealed cyanophage community patterns that reflected the physical structure of the water column as indicated by temperature and salinity. Based on mobility of PCR fragments in the DGGE gels, some cyanophages appeared to be widespread, while others were observed only at specific depths. Cyanophage communities within Salmon Inlet were more related to one another than to communities from either Malaspina Inlet or Pendrell Sound. As well, surface communities in Malaspina Inlet and Pendrell Sound were different when compared to communities at depth. In the same two locations, distinct differences in community composition were observed in communities that coincided with depths of high chlorophyll fluorescence. The observed community shifts over small distances (only a few meters in depth or inlets separated by less than 100 km) support the idea that cyanophage communities separated by small spatial scales develop independently of each other as a result isolation by water column stratification or land mass separation, which may ultimately lead to changes in the distribution or composition of the host community.


Synechococcus Virus Community Shallow Sample Algal Virus Marine Virus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors gratefully acknowledge Alice Ortmann for virus slide preparation, Sean Brigden for providing the cyanobacteria host DC-2, and Andre Comeau for the preparation of the cruise log. We also thank the crew of the CCGS Vector for their assistance with sample collection and Sara Leckie for her help with Gel Compar II. This study was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to C.A. Suttle.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. M. Frederickson
    • 1
  • S. M. Short
    • 2
  • C. A. Suttle
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, British ColumbiaCanada, V6T 1Z4
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, British ColumbiaCanada, V6T 1Z4
  3. 3.Department of BotanyUniversity of British Columbia, 6270 University Blvd., Vancouver, British ColumbiaCanada, V6T 1Z4

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