Ecological significance of extracellular vesicles in modulating host-virus interactions during algal blooms
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe ISME Journal. 2021, 15 (12), 3714-3721. 10.1038/s41396-021-01018-5
Extracellular vesicles are produced by organisms from all kingdoms and serve a myriad of functions, many of which involve cell-cell signaling, especially during stress conditions and host-pathogen interactions. In the marine environment, communication between microorganisms can shape trophic level interactions and population succession, yet we know very little about the involvement of vesicles in these processes. In a previous study, we showed that vesicles produced during viral infection by the ecologically important model alga Emiliania huxleyi, could act as a pro-viral signal, by expediting infection and enhancing the half-life of the virus in the extracellular milieu. Here, we expand our laboratory findings and show the effect of vesicles on natural populations of E. huxleyi in a mesocosm setting. We profile the small-RNA (sRNA) cargo of vesicles that were produced by E. huxleyi during bloom succession, and show that vesicles applied to natural assemblages expedite viral infection and prolong the half-life of this major mortality agent of E. huxleyi. We subsequently reveal that exposure of the natural assemblage to E. huxleyi-derived vesicles modulates not only host-virus dynamics, but also other components of the microbial food webs, thus emphasizing the importance of extracellular vesicles to microbial interactions in the marine environment.