Microbial Ecology

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 9–17 | Cite as

Abundance, Distribution, and Diversity of Viruses in Alkaline, Hypersaline Mono Lake, California

  • S. JiangEmail author
  • G. Steward
  • R. Jellison
  • W. Chu
  • S. Choi


Mono Lake is a large (180 km2), alkaline (pH ~10), moderately hypersaline (70–85 g kg−1) lake lying at the western edge of the Great Basin. An episode of persistent chemical stratification (meromixis) was initiated in 1995 and has resulted in depletion of oxygen and accumulation of ammonia and sulfide beneath the chemocline. Although previous studies have documented high bacterial abundances and marked seasonal changes in phytoplankton abundance and community composition, there have been no previous reports on the occurrence of viruses in this unique lake. Based on the high concentrations and diversity of microbial life in this lake, we hypothesized that planktonic viruses are also abundant and diverse. To examine the abundance and distribution of viruses and bacteria, water samples were collected from four stations along 5 to 15 vertical depths at each station. Viral abundance ranged from 1 × 108 to 1 × 109 mL−1, among the highest observed in any natural aquatic system examined so far. Increases (p < 0.1) in viral densities were observed in the anoxic bottom water at multiple stations. However, regression analysis indicated that viral abundance could not be predicted by any single environmental parameter. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis revealed a diverse viral community in Mono Lake with genome sizes ranging from ~14 to >400 kb with most of the DNA in the 30 to 60 kb size range. Cluster analysis grouped the anoxic bottom-water viral community into a unique cluster differentiating it from surface and mid-water viral communities. A hybridization study using an indigenous viral isolate as a probe revealed an episodic pattern of temporal phage distribution with strong niche stratification between oxic and anoxic waters.


Phytoplankton Bacterial Abundance Brine Shrimp Soda Lake Anoxic Water 
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.



We thank the entire Mono Lake Microbial Observatory Research Team (PIs: J. Hollibaugh and S. Joye, U Georgia; J. Zehr, UC Santa Cruz) for close collaboration and providing sampling and data support for this project. Special thanks also go to Dan Dawson for providing logistic support at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory and Sandra Roll for providing in situ physical and chemical data. The funding for this project was provided by UC Multi-campus Research Incentive Fund 02-T-MRIF-09-0023, NSF awards DEB-01-30528, DEB-01-29174, DEB-01-29160, and MCB 99-77886, MCB-99-77901.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Jiang
    • 1
    Email author
  • G. Steward
    • 2
  • R. Jellison
    • 3
  • W. Chu
    • 1
  • S. Choi
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Analysis and DesignUniversity of California, Irvine, CA 92696USA
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822USA
  3. 3.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106USA

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