Eukaryotic virus composition can predict the efficiency of carbon export in the global ocean

Eukaryotic virus composition can predict the efficiency of carbon export in the global ocean

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Kaneko, H., Blanc-Mathieu, R., Endo, H., Chaffron, S., Delmont, T. O., Gaia, M., Henry, N., Hernández-Velázquez, R., Nguyen, C. H., Mamitsuka, H., Forterre, P., Jaillon, O., de Vargas, C., Sullivan, M. B., Suttle, C. A., Guidi, L., & Ogata, H. (2021). Eukaryotic virus composition can predict the efficiency of carbon export in the global ocean. iScience, 24(1), 102002. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.102002

Abstract

The biological carbon pump, in which carbon fixed by photosynthesis is exported to the deep ocean through sinking, is a major process in Earth’s carbon cycle. The proportion of primary production that is exported is termed the carbon export efficiency (CEE). Based on in-lab or regional scale observations, viruses were previously suggested to affect the CEE (i.e., viral “shunt” and “shuttle”). In this study, we tested associations between viral community composition and CEE measured at a global scale. A regression model based on relative abundance of viral marker genes explained 67% of the variation in CEE. Viruses with high importance in the model were predicted to infect ecologically important hosts. These results are consistent with the view that the viral shunt and shuttle functions at a large scale and further imply that viruses likely act in this process in a way dependent on their hosts and ecosystem dynamics.

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