Virus production in phosphorus-limitedMicromonas pusillastimulated by a supply of naturally low concentrations of different phosphorus sources, far into the lytic cycle

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Earlier studies show that the proliferation of phytoplankton viruses can be inhibited by depletion of soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP; orthophosphate). In natural marine waters, phytoplankton phosphorus (P) availability is, however, largely determined by the supply rate of SRP (e.g. through remineralization) and potentially by the source of P as well (i.e. the utilization of soluble non-reactive P; SNP). Here we show how a steady low supply of P (mimicking natural P recycling) to virally infected P-limited Micromonas pusilla stimulates virus proliferation. Independent of the degree of P limitation prior to infection (0.32 and 0.97μmax chemostat cultures), SRP supply resulted in 2-fold higher viral burst sizes (viruses lysed per host cell) as compared with no addition (P starvation). Delaying these spikes during the infection cycle showed that the added SRP was utilized for extra M. pusilla virus (MpV) production far into the lytic cycle (18 h post-infection). Moreover, P-limited M. pusilla utilized several SNP compounds with high efficiency and with the same extent of burst size stimulation as for SRP. Finally, addition of virus-free MpV lysate (representing a complex SNP mixture) to newly infected cells enhanced MpV production, implicating host-associated alkaline phosphatase activity, and highlighting its important role in oligotrophic environments.

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