Viral dynamics in cryoconite holes on a high Arctic glacier (Svalbard)

AM Anesio, B Mindl, J Laybourn-Parry, AJ Hodson, B Sattler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Viruses are an abundant and dynamic constituent of microbial communities in aquatic ecosystems. In this study we characterized the abundance of viruses associated first with the bottom sediment and overlying water of cryoconite holes and second with shallow ice cores of two different glaciers in Svalbard. Viral abundances were ca. 10–100 times lower than the average for marine and freshwater ecosystems in temperate regions. Virus to bacterium ratios (VBR) (average > 10, range between 0.7 and 74 in the water and ice samples) and a strong positive correlation between viral and bacterial abundance (r = 0.93, p < 0.01, N = 57) indicate that viruses most probably play an important role in controlling bacterial mortality and hence biogeochemical cycling on glaciers. Samples taken along a transect from the glacier ablation area to proglacial ponds in its forefield showed that viral abundance increased in response to a higher host availability, which in turn probably resulted from an increase in temperature and higher mineral levels in the ponds. In a transplantation experiment, viruses from cryoconite holes were incubated with a bacterial community from a proglacial lake. Results from the transplantation experiment showed that viruses from cryoconite holes were able to infect bacteria from proglacial lakes and thus influence biogeochemical cycles across different glacial ecosystems. Our data therefore suggest that viruses in cryoconite holes may be able to infect a broad range of bacterial species.
Translated title of the contributionViral dynamics in cryoconite holes on a high Arctic glacier (Svalbard)
Original languageEnglish
Article numberG04S31
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue numberG4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Geophysical Union

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