Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology

Simons Foundation: Viruses vs. zooplankton: quantifying the interplay between parasites and predators in the North Pacific Ocean (2014-2017)

Marine viruses affect microbial community structure and biogeochemical cycles in multiple ways: (i) by negatively affecting, and potentially limiting, the density of target populations; (ii) by modifying the metabolic activity of infected cells, including nutrient uptake rates; (iii) by stimulating production via the “viral shunt”, in which cellular lysates are released back into the environment and then re-assimilated by non-targeted cells. Yet inferring the relative importance of virus-induced modifications of microbes and microbial cell fate is difficult in the face of competing ocean processes, e.g., grazing by zooplankton. Here, I propose to leverage theory- and simulation-based approaches to quantify the relative importance of viruses relative to that of zooplankton in regulating microbial mortality and modifying ecosystem functioning in a model ocean environment: Station ALOHA. This work is part of a multi-PI project the "Simons Collaboration on Ocean Processes and Ecology" aka SCOPE.