Viruses occur incorporated in biogenic high-Mg calcite from hypersaline microbial mats

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© 2015 De Wit et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Using three different microscopy techniques (epifluorescence, electronic and atomic force microscopy), we showed that high-Mg calcite grains in calcifying microbial mats from the hypersaline lake "La Salada de Chiprana", Spain, contain viruses with a diameter of 50-80 nm. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer analysis revealed that they contain nitrogen and phosphorus in a molar ratio of ∼9, which is typical for viruses. Nucleic acid staining revealed that they contain DNA or RNA. As characteristic for hypersaline environments, the concentrations of free and attached viruses were high (>10<sup>10</sup> viruses per g of mat). In addition, we showed that acid treatment (dissolution of calcite) resulted in release of viruses into suspension and estimated that there were ∼15 × 10<sup>9</sup> viruses per g of calcite. We suggest that virus-mineral interactions are one of the possible ways for the formation of nano-sized structures often described as "nanobacteria" and that viruses may play a role in initiating calcification.




De Wit, R., Gautret, P., Bettarel, Y., Roques, C., Marlière, C., Ramonda, M., … Bouvier, T. (2015). Viruses occur incorporated in biogenic high-Mg calcite from hypersaline microbial mats. PLoS ONE, 10(6).

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