Assessing Viral Abundance and Community Composition in Four Contrasting Regions of the Southern Ocean


We explored how changes of viral abundance and community composition among four contrasting regions in the Southern Ocean relied on physicochemical and microbiological traits. During January–February 2015, we visited areas north and south of the South Orkney Islands (NSO and SSO) characterized by low temperature and salinity and high inorganic nutrient concentration, north of South Georgia Island (NSG) and west of Anvers Island (WA), which have relatively higher temperatures and lower inorganic nutrient concentrations. Surface viral abundance (VA) was highest in NSG (21.50  10.70  106 viruses mL􀀀1) and lowest in SSO (2.96  1.48  106 viruses mL􀀀1). VA was positively correlated with temperature, prokaryote abundance and prokaryotic heterotrophic production, chlorophyll a, diatoms, haptophytes, fluorescent organic matter, and isoprene concentration, and was negatively correlated with inorganic nutrients (NO3􀀀, SiO4 2􀀀, PO4 3􀀀), and dimethyl sulfide (DMS) concentrations. Viral communities determined by randomly amplified polymorphic DNA–polymerase chain reaction (RAPD-PCR) were grouped according to the sampling location, being more similar within them than among regions. The first two axes of a canonical correspondence analysis, including physicochemical (temperature, salinity, inorganic nutrients—NO3􀀀, SiO4 2􀀀, and dimethyl sulfoniopropionate -DMSP- and isoprene concentrations) and microbiological (chlorophyll a, haptophytes and diatom, and prokaryote abundance and prokaryotic heterotrophic production) factors accounted for 62.9% of the variance. The first axis, temperature-related, accounted for 33.8%; the second one, salinity-related, accounted for 29.1%. Thus, di erent environmental situations likely select di erent hosts for viruses, leading to distinct viral communities.


Sotomayor-Garcia A., M.M. Sala, I. Ferrera, M. Estrada, E. Vázquez-Domínguez, M. Emilianov, P. Cortés, C. Marrasé, E. Ortega-Retuerta, S. Nunes, Y.M. Castillo, M. Serrano Cuerva, M. Sebastian, M. Dall’Osto, R. Simó, D. Vaqué (2020). Assessing viral abundance and community composition in four contrasting regions of the Southern Ocean. Life 10: 107, doi: 10.3390/life10070107

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Simó R. (2004). From cells to globe: approaching the dynamics of DMS(P) in the ocean at multiple scales. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61(5): 673-684.

Galí M., R. Simó (2015). A meta-analysis of oceanic DMS and DMSP cycling processes: disentangling the summer paradox. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 29.

Vallina S.M., R. Simó, M. Manizza (2007). Weak response of oceanic dimethylsulfide to upper mixing shoaling induced by global warmingProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 104: 16004-16009

Rafel Simó

I am interested in ocean biosphere-atmosphere interactions in the Earth System. For nearly 30 years, I have investigated the biological and environmental actors that govern the production and emission of volatile sulfur from the ocean, which I have recently extended to other volatile compounds and gel-like substances. I like to look at both sides of the ocean-atmosphere interface and follow the path of oceanic emissions into aerosols and clouds.

I am also interested in chemical communication between marine organisms, and how this communication shapes trophic interactions and symbioses. 

For my research I count on a network of collaborators and use a broad array of methodologies, from “single-cell biogeochemistry” and omics, and trace gas and aerosol measurements, through experimental plankton physiology and ecology, all the way up to satellite analyses and modeling of the global ocean and atmosphere. I have conducted fieldwork in the Arctic, Antarctica, across the Atlantic, tropical Pacific and Mediterranean Sea.

Institute of Marine Sciences, Barcelona
Telf. +34 932309590