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Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 12, pp 1831–1841 | Cite as

Abundant dissolved genetic material in Arctic sea ice Part II: Viral dynamics during autumn freeze-up

  • R. Eric CollinsEmail author
  • Jody W. Deming
Original Paper

Abstract

Viruses play a significant role in nutrient cycling within the world’s oceans and are important agents of horizontal gene transfer, but little is know about their entrainment into sea ice or their temporal dynamics once entrained. Nilas, grease ice, pancake ice, first-year sea ice floes up to 78 cm in thickness, and under-ice seawater were sampled widely across Amundsen Gulf (ca. \(71^\circ \hbox{N}, 125^\circ \hbox{W}\)) for concentrations of viruses and bacteria. Here, we report exceptionally high virus-to-bacteria ratios in seawater (45–340) and sea ice (93–2,820) during the autumn freeze-up. Virus concentrations ranged from 4.8 to 27 × 106  ml−1 in seawater and, scaled to brine volume, 5.5 to 170 × 107 ml−1 in sea ice. Large enrichment indices indicated processes of active entrainment from source seawater, or viral production within the ice, which was observed in 2 of 3 bottle incubations of sea ice brine at a temperature (\(-7^\circ\hbox{C}\)) and salinity (\(110 \permille\)) approximating that in situ. Median predicted virus-to-bacteria contact rates (relative to underlying seawater) were greatest in the top of thick sea ice (66–78 cm: 130×) and lowest in the bottom of medium-thickness ice (33–37 cm: 23×). The great abundance of viruses and more frequent interactions between bacteria and viruses predicted in sea ice relative to underlying seawater suggest that sea ice may be a hot spot for virally mediated horizontal gene transfer in the polar marine environment.

Keywords

Arctic Sea ice Viruses Bacteria Horizontal gene transfer 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the captain, crew, and scientific party of the CCGS Amundsen for a successful cruise. We gratefully acknowledge M. Pucko, W. Walkusz, P. Galand, B. Else, N. Sutherland, and M. Gupta for field assistance, C. Marrasé for assistance with chlorophyll a measurements, J. Islefson, D. Barber and CFL Team 2 for ice microstructure information and the use of ice-coring equipment, and S. Carpenter for help with laboratory analyses. The input of three reviewers helped to improve the manuscript, we thank them for their efforts.

Supplementary material

300_2011_1008_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (359 kb)
PDF (359 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Oceanography and Astrobiology ProgramUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Origins InstituteMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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