The short term dynamics of virus abundance in coastal sea water was investigated by frequent sampling of open ecosystems and of water incubated in bottles in situ. Sampling intervals were 6-10 min. The viral abundance showed significant temporal fluctuations both in situ and in the bottles and it changed in some cases by a factor of 2-4 within 10-20 min. Laboratory incubations showed that production and release of viruses were not induced or stimulated by nutrient addition, high light intensities or transient increase in temperatures ca. 10°C. Our interpretation of these results is that they result from synchronous lysis and release of virus particles from bacterial hosts and a rapid disintegration of these particles when released in sea water.
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