Viruses play important roles in marine surface ecosystems, but little is known about viral ecology and virus-mediated processes in deep-sea hydrothermal microbial communities. In this study, we examined virus-like particle (VLP) abundances in planktonic and attached microbial communities, which occur in physical and chemical gradients in both deep and shallow submarine hydrothermal environments (mixing waters between hydrothermal fluids and ambient seawater and dense microbial communities attached to chimney surface areas or macrofaunal bodies and colonies). We found that viruses were widely distributed in a variety of hydrothermal microbial habitats, with the exception of the interior parts of hydrothermal chimney structures. The VLP abundance and VLP-to-prokaryote ratio (VPR) in the planktonic habitats increased as the ratio of hydrothermal fluid to mixing water increased. On the other hand, the VLP abundance in attached microbial communities was significantly and positively correlated with the whole prokaryotic abundance; however, the VPRs were always much lower than those for the surrounding hydrothermal waters. This is the first report to show VLP abundance in the attached microbial communities of submarine hydrothermal environments, which presented VPR values significantly lower than those in planktonic microbial communities reported before. These results suggested that viral lifestyles (e.g., lysogenic prevalence) and virus interactions with prokaryotes are significantly different among the planktonic and attached microbial communities that are developing in the submarine hydrothermal environments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology