Moderate Seasonal Dynamics Indicate an Important Role for Lysogeny in the Red Sea

Ruba Abdulrahman Ashy, Curtis A. Suttle, Susana Agusti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Viruses are the most abundant microorganisms in marine environments and viral infections can be either lytic (virulent) or lysogenic (temperate phage) within the host cell. The aim of this study was to quantify viral dynamics (abundance and infection) in the coastal Red Sea, a narrow oligotrophic basin with high surface water temperatures (22–32 °C degrees), high salinity (37.5–41) and continuous high insolation, thus making it a stable and relatively unexplored environment. We quantified viral and environmental changes in the Red Sea (two years) and the occurrence of lysogenic bacteria (induced by mitomycin C) on the second year. Water temperatures ranged from 24.0 to 32.5 °C, and total viral and bacterial abundances ranged from 1.5 to 8.7 × 106 viruses mL−1 and 1.9 to 3.2 × 105 bacteria mL−1, respectively. On average, 12.24% ± 4.8 (SE) of the prophage bacteria could be induced by mitomycin C, with the highest percentage of 55.8% observed in January 2018 when bacterial abundances were low; whereas no induction was measurable in spring when bacterial abundances were highest. Thus, despite the fact that the Red Sea might be perceived as stable, warm and saline, relatively modest changes in seasonal conditions were associated with large swings in the prevalence of lysogeny.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1269
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 11 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-06-15
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) through the baseline research funding provided to Susana Agustí.


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