Virioplankton as an important component of plankton in the Volga Reservoirs
AbstractThe distribution of virioplankton, abundance and production, frequency of visibly infected cells of heterotrophic bacteria and autotrophic picocyanobacteria and their virus-induced mortality have been studied in mesotrophic and eutrophic reservoirs of the Upper and Middle Volga (Ivankovo, Uglich, Rybinsk, Gorky, Cheboksary, and Sheksna reservoirs). The abundance of planktonic viruses (VA) is on average by 4.6 ± 1.2 times greater than the abundance of bacterioplankton (BA). The distribution of VA in the Volga reservoirs was largely determined by the distribution of BA and heterotrophic bacterioplankton production (PB). There was a positive correlation between VA and BA and between VA and PB. In addition, BA and VA were both positively correlated with primary production of phytoplankton. Viral particles of 60 to 100 µm in size dominated in the phytoplankton composition. A large number of bacteria and picocyanobacteria with viruses attached to the surface of their cells were found in the reservoirs. Viruses as the most numerous component of plankton make a significant contribution to the formation of the planktonic microbial community biomass. The number of phages inside infected cells of bacteria and picocyanobacteria reached 74‒109 phages/cell. Easily digestible organic matter, which entered the aquatic environment as a result of viral lysis of bacteria and picocyanobacteria, could be an additional source of carbon for living bacteria. The results of long-term studies indicate a significant role of viruses in functioning of planktonic microbial communities in the Volga reservoirs.
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