Distinct molecular signatures in dissolved organic matter produced by viral lysis of marine cyanobacteria. Academic Article uri icon


  • Dissolved organic matter (DOM) plays a central role in the microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of aquatic environments, yet little is known about how the mechanism of DOM release from its ultimate source, primary producer biomass, affects the molecular composition of the inputs to the dissolved pool. Here we used a model marine phytoplankton, the picocyanobacterium Synechococcus WH7803, to compare the composition of DOM released by three mechanisms: exudation, mechanical cell lysis and infection by the lytic phage S-SM1. A broad, untargeted analytical approach reveals the complexity of this freshly sourced DOM, and comparative analysis between DOM produced by the different mechanisms suggests that exudation and viral lysis are sources of unsaturated, oxygen-rich and possibly novel biomolecules. Furthermore, viral lysis of WH7803 by S-SM1 releases abundant peptides derived from specific proteolysis of the major light-harvesting protein phycoerythrin, raising the possibility that phage infection of these abundant cyanobacteria could be a significant source of high molecular weight dissolved organic nitrogen compounds.

publication date

  • August 2018