Marine viruses and their ecological importance in the Turkish Seas

Allen M. J., SİVRİ N.

2nd International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology, ICOEST 2014, Antalya, Turkey, 14 - 17 May 2014, pp.906

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.906
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


The unicellular coccolithophore alga, Emiliana huxleyi (Haptophyta), is found
throughout the world’s oceans. The size and intensity of its blooms makes E. huxleyi 
important for nutrient and CO2 cycling, and biogenic sulphur production (in the form of 
dimethyl sulphide) in the marine environment. Consequently E. huxleyi is a key species 
for current studies on global biogeochemical cycles and climate modelling. Viruses are 
the most abundant biological entity in aquatic systems, representing the greatest pool of 
genetic diversity on Earth and playing a major role in biogeochemical cycles through their 
lytic action. Emiliania huxleyi virus strain 86 (EhV-86) is in the genus Coccolithovirus 
within the family Phycodnaviridae of algal viruses. Coccolithovirus control over E. huxleyi 
bloom formation can have a profound impact on ecosystem and community dynamics. 
The aim of this study is to provide an overview of marine viruses, in particular the 
coccolithoviruses, and to establish their role and importance in the Turkish sea ecosystems. 
Techniques for virus identification, isolation and purification will be applied to Turkish 
water samples, and assessment made of the ecological and biogeochemical effects of 
virus activity, with an eye to characterising the currently untapped potential hidden within 
the Turkish algal virus community. With its regular E. huxleyi blooms in the Marmara 
region in particular, coccolithoviruses are likely to exert significant control on marine 
bacterial and phytoplankton communities in Turkish waters, with respect to both biological 
production and species composition, influencing the pathways of matter and energy 
transfer in the system.
Keywords: Coccolithovirus, Emiliana huxleyi, EhV-86, Marine viruses, Marmara Sea.
Acknowledgment: This study was supported by The Scientific and Technological 
Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) Grant 2219-2013/1.