Environmental influences on virus–host interactions in an Australian subtropical reservoir

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research




Sawstrom, C. , & Pollard, P. (2012). Environmental influences on virus–host interactions in an Australian subtropical reservoir. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 4(1), 72-81.


Viral and prokaryotic interactions in freshwaters have been investigated worldwide but there are few temporal studies in the tropics and none in the sub-tropics. In this 10-month study, we examined temporal changes in virus–host interactions and viral life cycles (lytic versus lysogenic) in relation to the prevailing environmental conditions in a subtropical water reservoir (Wivenhoe) in southeast Queensland, Australia. Heterotrophic prokaryotes and picocyanobacteria were positively correlated with concentrations of viruses throughout the study, indicating the presence of both bacteriophages and cyanophages in the reservoir. The percentage of heterotrophic prokaryotes and picocyanobacteria containing intracellular viruses (FVIC) ranged between 0.2% and 2.4% and did not vary significantly over the 10-month study, whereas lysogenic heterotrophic prokaryotes were only detected in the drier months of June and July. Spearman rank correlation analysis showed that the oxidative-reduction potential (ORP) of the water reservoir influenced the concentrations of viruses, heterotrophic prokaryotes and picocyanobacteria significantly, with low ORP offering a favourable environment for these components. There was a negative relationship between FVIC and rainfall suggesting the associated run-off altered virus–host interactions. Overall, our study provides novel information and inferences on how virus–host interactions in subtropical freshwaters might respond to changes in precipitation predicted to occur with global climate change.