Temperature-induced activation of freshwater Cyanophage AS-1 prophage
Acta Histochem, 113(3), 294- 299, February 2010
Tin-Chun Chu, Ph.D.
Department of Biological Studies
Sean R. Murray, Shi-Fang Hsu, Quinn Vega & Lee H. Lee
Synechococcus sp. IU 625 is one of the freshwater cyanobacteria responsible for harmful algal blooms (HAB). Cyanophages can serve as natural control agents and may be responsible for algal bloom prevention and disappearance. Cyanophage AS-1, which infects Synechococcus sp. IU 625 (Anacystis nidulans) and Synechococcus cedrorum, plays an important role in the environment, significantly altering the numbers of its hosts. Since seasonal (temperature-dependent) lytic induction of cyanobacterial prophage has been proposed to affect seawater algal blooms, we investigated if the AS-1 lytic cycle could be induced by a shift to high temperature. Our hypothesis was confirmed, as more phages were released at 35°C than at 24°C, with maximal induction observed with a shift from 24 to 35°C. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images provide direct evidence of lysogenic to lytic conversion with temperature shift. Thus, temperature is an important inducer for AS-1 conversion from lysogenic to lytic cycle and could have applications in terms of modulating cyanobacterial populations in freshwater aquatic environments. The study gives insight into the effect of climate change on the interaction between cyanophage and cyanobacteria in freshwater ecosystems.