Experimental evaluation of the warming effect on viral, bacterial and protistan communities in two contrasting Arctic systems

Elena Lara, Jesus Arrieta, Iñigo Garcia-Zarandona, Julia A. Boras, Carlos Duarte, Susana Agusti, Paul F. Wassmann, Dolors Vaqué

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The effect of Arctic warming, which is 3 times faster than the global average, on microbial communities was evaluated experimentally to determine how increasing temperatures affect bacterial and viral abundance and production, protist community composition, and bacterial loss rates (bacterivory and lysis) in 2 contrasting Arctic marine systems. In July 2009, we collected samples from open Arctic waters in the Barents Sea and Atlantic-influenced waters in Isfjorden, Svalbard Islands (Fjord waters). The samples were used in 2 microcosm experiments at 7 temperatures, ranging from 1.0 to 10.0°C. In the open Arctic microbial community, collected at <1.0°C, bacterial and viral abundances, bacterial production and grazing rates due to protists increased significantly above 5.5°C, and remained at high values at even higher experimental temperatures. The abundance of protists, such as some heterotrophic pico/nanoflagellates, as well as some ciliates, also increased with warming. In contrast, the biomass of phototrophs decreased above 5.5°C. The water temperature in Fjord waters was 6.2°C at the time of sampling, and the microbial community showed smaller variations than the Arctic community. These results indicate that increases in temperature stimulate heterotrophic microbial biomass and activity compared to that of phototrophs, which has important implications for carbon and nutrient cycling in the system. In addition, open Arctic communities were more vulnerable to warming than those already adapted to the warmer Fjord waters influenced by Atlantic seawater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
JournalAquatic Microbial Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 19 2013


  • Bacteria
  • Global warming
  • Grazing
  • Protists
  • Viral production
  • Virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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