Temporal fluctuations from viruses to mammals (VIR-MAM) on the Faroe Shelf

Project Details


The effective conservation and management of natural resources relies upon understanding biodiversity and population dynamics. Understanding biodiversity patterns across trophic levels (viruses to mammals) is therefore critical to provide ecosystem services such as food provision, oxygen, and socioeconomic benefits that support livelihoods and fuel the economy. Over the past two decades, research has shown that viruses are dominating in terms of abundance and have the second highest biomass of any living entity in oceanic ecosystems. Viruses are thought to be able to infect biota across all trophic levels and as lytic agents viruses strongly influence the ecology and evolution of their hosts. However, little is known about their diversity, distribution, and seasonal change, especially in correspondence to their eukaryotic hosts. Viral lysis is an important control on phytoplankton and bacterial communities in marine environments of comparable magnitude to the effect of grazing. In contrast to grazing, however, viral lysis is considered a highly host-specific mode of predation and therefore drives a phylogenetic selection force on higher trophic levels.
The VIR-MAM project intends to analyse diversity and abundance of viruses in a temperate region (the Faroe Shelf) with a time series of five years. We will couple our research with the Faroese Marine Ecosystem Observatory Study (FAMEOS) to survey across trophic levels from viruses to mammals. The FAMEOS project has been collecting samples since 2018 for microorganisms, phytoplankton, invertebrates and vertebrates through eDNA metabarcoding.
The VIR-MAM project will offer the first metagenomic characterization of the viral communities in the northern North Atlantic and the very first viral diversity study on the Faroe Shelf. In addition, this will also be the first project to analyse viral diversity in temperate regions and their interaction with microbes-mammals across multiple years. Together with the FAMEOS project VIR-MAM will represent a pioneering attempt to apply eDNA metabarcoding across different trophic levels coupled with viral diversity and viral abundance assessments in any ecosystem.
Effective start/end date1/04/2231/03/25


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