Bacteria and viruses in the water column of tropical freshwater reservoirs

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In tropical freshwater reservoirs of Sri Lanka, which are linked in an aquatic network, bacterial abundance and production as well as virus abundance, frequency of viral infection and virus production were investigated together with a set of nutrient species (Kjeldahl-N, NO3-N, total P, soluble P, PO4-P). At two characteristic seasons (wet season, dry season), samples were taken from two types of reservoirs (new upland impoundment and ancient, shallow lowland reservoir), each during 4 days at various depths of the entire water columns. Kjeldahl-N and total P were greatly elevated in the wind-mixed water body of the shallow impoundment during the dry season, whereas the deeper reservoir type exhibited no obvious seasonality. In SYBR green™-stained samples, bacterial abundance showed no seasonal pattern in either reservoir type. Bacterial secondary production, however, was significantly elevated in the entire water column of the shallow impoundment under wind-mixed conditions in the dry season. Highest abundance of virus particles and elevated frequency of bacteria containing mature phages were also observed in the shallow reservoir during the dry season indicating favourable conditions for virus propagation. Data from this aquatic network show that most virus parameters, such as abundance or frequency of visibly infected cells, were positively linked to bacterial abundance and production, but also to organic nitrogen or some phosphorus species. We calculated that between 13.2% and 46.1% of the bacterial standing stocks would be subjected to virus-mediated mortality. Estimates of bacteriophage production revealed that from 10 × 109 up to 98 × 109 phages were produced per litre and day. Bacteria and viruses in the studied tropical freshwater system appear to be linked to various environmental conditions and may affect processes at the ecosystem scale.

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