Giant viruses are known to be significant mortality agents of phytoplankton, often being implicated in the terminations of large Emiliania huxleyi blooms. We have previously shown the high temporal variability of E. huxleyi-infecting coccolithoviruses (EhVs) within a Norwegian fjord mesocosm. In the current study we investigated EhV dynamics within a naturally-occurring E. huxleyi bloom in the Western English Channel. Using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis and marker gene sequencing, we uncovered a spatially highly dynamic Coccolithovirus population that was associated with a genetically stable E. huxleyi population as revealed by the major capsid protein gene (mcp) and coccolith morphology motif (CMM), respectively. Coccolithoviruses within the bloom were found to be variable with depth and unique virus populations were detected at different stations sampled indicating a complex network of EhV-host infections. This ultimately will have significant implications to the internal structure and longevity of ecologically important E. huxleyi blooms.
- Emiliania huxleyi