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Impact of Inorganic Ions and Carbon Composition on Phage-Host Dynamics in Terrestrial Microbiomes

Impact of Inorganic Ions and Carbon Composition on Phage-Host Dynamics in Terrestrial Microbiomes

🦠 This study investigates the influence of inorganic ions and carbon composition on phage-host dynamics in terrestrial microbiomes, specifically focusing on model bacterial-phage interactions and their impact on microbial element cycling.


  1. Bacteriophages (phages) are present in various microbial communities and can significantly influence microbial element cycling.
  2. Mechanistic models for predicting phage-host dynamics in complex environments like soils and sediments are lacking.
  3. The marine carbon cycle is influenced by phage lysis, whereas the contribution of phages to terrestrial element cycling is not well understood.
  4. Phage success depends on host abundance, which, in turn, is influenced by environmental factors like nutrient availability.
  5. Inorganic ions, such as calcium, sodium, and magnesium, play a crucial role in phage-host interactions by affecting phage binding and infectivity.
  6. The study employed laboratory experiments to assess the impact of inorganic ions and carbon composition on phage-host interactions and microbial element cycling in freshwater sediments.
  7. Results indicate that phages can limit the growth and activity of specific microbial populations involved in element cycling, but this is dependent on the availability of suitable carbon sources and certain inorganic ion concentrations.

This study delves into the intricate relationship between bacteriophages (phages) and their bacterial hosts within terrestrial microbiomes. Although the importance of phage-host dynamics in the cycling of microbial elements is known, comprehending the mechanisms behind it is still difficult. This is especially true in complex environments such as soils and sediments. The marine ecosystem’s carbon cycle is influenced by phage-mediated bacterial lysis, but the extent of phage impact on terrestrial element cycling is less clear. The research demonstrates the importance of environmental factors, such as nutrient availability and inorganic ion concentrations, in shaping phage-host interactions. Phages can limit the growth and activity of certain microorganisms that are important for cycling essential elements. This was discovered through laboratory experiments with bacterial-phage interactions and freshwater sediment microbiomes. However, this impact is contingent upon the availability of suitable carbon sources and specific inorganic ion concentrations. These findings provide valuable insights into the intricate web of interactions that shape microbial communities and ecosystem processes in terrestrial environments.

What Researchers of the Paper Say

Researchers suggest that the interaction between phages and their bacterial hosts is significantly influenced by the availability of carbon sources and inorganic ions. The study highlights the importance of environmental factors in determining the success of phage predation on specific microbial populations involved in essential element cycling functions. Researchers have proposed a model that explains how phage predation mainly occurs in “hotspots” where the nutrient availability promotes host growth and the concentration of inorganic ions is high. This model contributes to our understanding of microbial ecology in terrestrial ecosystems and emphasizes the complex interplay between phages, bacteria, nutrients, and inorganic ions.

This study underscores the intricate interdependence between phages, bacteria, and their environment in terrestrial microbiomes. The research highlights the pivotal role of inorganic ions and carbon sources in shaping the dynamics of these interactions. By providing mechanistic insights into the conditions under which phage predation impacts microbial element cycling, the study contributes to our comprehension of ecosystem processes. The findings emphasize the need for comprehensive models that consider the multifaceted factors influencing microbial ecology in diverse environments. Such models could offer valuable predictive tools for understanding and managing ecosystem functions and responses to environmental changes.

  • 🦠 Bacteriophages, or phages, are viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria. They are widespread in natural microbial communities and play important roles in modulating microbial element cycling.
  • 🌍 In terrestrial ecosystems, the impact of phage predation on element cycling varies due to complex environmental factors such as soil heterogeneity and carbon composition.
  • 🌊 In marine environments, phage lysis leads to the death of bacteria, contributing significantly to bacterial mortality. This phenomenon affects the marine carbon cycle, releasing carbon from dead bacterial cells.
  • 🧪 In laboratory experiments, the study focused on understanding the mechanistic models of phage dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. Factors like ions (alkali metals, alkaline earth metals) and carbon composition were investigated for their impact on phage-host interactions.
  • 🔬 The experiments included growing model E. coli strains with different inorganic ions to observe their influence on phage-host interactions. Results showed that certain ions enabled efficient phage infection, while others were more toxic to bacteria, highlighting the importance of ion concentrations.
  • 🍃 In complex microbial communities, like a cultured nitrate-reducing microbiome from freshwater sediment, phages were found to influence microbial element cycling. Phage impacts depended on the carbon source available and inorganic ion concentrations in the environment.
  • 🧪 Ultimately, a mechanistic model was proposed, suggesting that phage predation in terrestrial systems occurs predominantly in “hotspots” where there are sufficient nutrients for host growth and higher concentrations of inorganic ions. This model helps explain the dynamics of phage-host interactions and their impact on microbial element cycling.

Geochemical constraints on bacteriophage infectivity in terrestrial environments

  • Hans K. Carlson, Denish Piya, Madeline L. Moore, Roniya T. Magar, Nathalie H. Elisabeth, Adam M. Deutschbauer, Adam P. Arkin & Vivek K. Mutalik
  • Phage Diversity: Bacteriophages are diverse viruses that infect bacteria, playing key roles in shaping microbial communities and element cycling.
  • Variable Impact: Phage-host interactions’ impact on element cycling in soils is complex and context-dependent, affected by environmental factors.
  • Marine Carbon Cycle: In marine environments, phage lysis significantly contributes to bacterial mortality, influencing the marine carbon cycle.
  • Ionic Influence: Inorganic ions, including alkali metals and alkaline earth metals, influence phage-host interactions, impacting infection efficiency and bacterial growth.
  • Mechanistic Insights: Laboratory experiments provide insights into the mechanistic models of phage dynamics, highlighting the importance of ions and carbon composition in microbial ecosystems.


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