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Marine bacteriophage

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Title: Marine bacteriophage  
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Subject: Plankton, Marine biology, Zooplankton, Algal bloom, Phytoplankton
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Marine bacteriophage

Marine bacteriophages or marine phages are [1] However, viruses belonging to families Corticoviridae,[3] Inoviridae[4] and Microviridae[5] are also known to infect diverse marine bacteria. Metagenomic evidence suggests that microviruses (icosahedral ssDNA phages) are particularly prevalent in marine habitats.[5]

Bacteriophages, viruses that are parasitic on bacteria, were first discovered in the early twentieth century. Scientists today consider that their importance in ecosystems, particularly marine ecosystems, has been underestimated, leading to these infectious agents being poorly investigated and their numbers and species biodiversity being greatly under reported.[6]

Marine phages

Marine phages, although microscopic and essentially unnoticed by scientists until recently, appear to be the most abundant and diverse form of DNA replicating agent on the planet. There are approximately 4x1030 phage in oceans or 5x107 per millilitre.[7] HTVC010P infects one of the most common marine bacteria, Pelagibacter ubique of the SAR11 clade.[8][9] They appear to influence biogeochemical cycles globally, provide and regulate microbial biodiversity, cycle carbon through marine food webs, and are essential in preventing bacterial population explosions.[10] Scientists are exploring the potential of marine cyanophages to be used to prevent or reverse eutrophication.

In sediments

Marine bacteriophage form an important part of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, but the exact influences are currently not understood.[7]

Carbon cycle

Marine viruses may play an important role in the carbon cycle by increasing the efficiency of the biological pump. The argument is that lysis releases unstable compounds, such as amino acids and nucleic acids, which tend to be recycled near the surface, whereas more indigestible carbon-rich material, such as that found in cell walls, is probably exported to deeper waters. Thus, the material that is exported to deeper waters by the 'viral shunt' is probably more carbon rich than the material from which it was derived. This would increase the efficiency of the biological pump.[11]


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  11. ^ Suttle CA. Marine viruses—major players in the global ecosystem. Nature Reviews Microbiology. October 2007;5(10):801–12. doi:10.1038/nrmicro1750. PMID 17853907.
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