Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Al-Ameeli, Z.T.; Al-Sammak, M.A.; DeLong, J.P.; Dunigan, D.D.; Van Etten, J.L. Catalysis of Chlorovirus Production by the Foraging of Bursaria truncatella on Paramecia bursaria Containing Endosymbiotic Algae. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 2170. 10.3390/microorganisms9102170


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Chloroviruses are large viruses that replicate in chlorella-like green algae and normally exist as mutualistic endosymbionts (referred to as zoochlorellae) in protists such as Paramecium bursaria. Chlorovirus populations rise and fall in indigenous waters through time; however, the factors involved in these virus fluctuations are still under investigation. Chloroviruses attach to the surface of P. bursaria but cannot infect their zoochlorellae hosts because the viruses cannot reach the zoochlorellae as long as they are in the symbiotic phase. Predators of P. bursaria, such as copepods and didinia, can bring chloroviruses into contact with zoochlorellae by disrupting the paramecia, which results in an increase in virus titers in microcosm experiments. Here, we report that another predator of P. bursaria, Bursaria truncatella, can also increase chlorovirus titers. After two days of foraging on P. bursaria, B. truncatella increased infectious chlorovirus abundance about 20 times above the controls. Shorter term foraging (3 h) resulted in a small increase of chlorovirus titers over the controls and more foraging generated more chloroviruses. Considering that B. truncatella does not release viable zoochlorellae either during foraging or through fecal pellets, where zoochlorellae could be infected by chlorovirus, we suggest a third pathway of predator virus catalysis. By engulfing the entire protist and digesting it slowly, virus replication can occur within the predator and some of the virus is passed out through a waste vacuole. These results provide additional support for the hypothesis that predators of P. bursaria are important drivers of chlorovirus population sizes and dynamics.

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