Precipitation of calcium carbonate mineral induced by viral lysis of cyanobacteria: evidence from laboratory experiments
Viruses have been acknowledged as being important components of the marine system for the past 2 decades, but their role in the functioning of the geochemical cycle has not been thoroughly elucidated to date. Virus-induced rupturing of cyanobacteria is theoretically capable of releasing intracellular bicarbonate and inducing the homogeneous nucleation of calcium carbonate; however, experiment-based support for virus-induced calcification is lacking. In this laboratory study, both water carbonate chemistry and precipitates were monitored during the viral infection and lysis of host cells. Our results show that viral lysis of cyanobacteria can influence the carbonate equilibrium system remarkably and promotes the formation and precipitation of carbonate minerals. Amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) and aragonite were evident in the lysate, compared with the Mg(OH)2 (brucite in this paper) precipitate in noninfected cultures, implying that a different precipitation process had occurred. Based on the carbonate chemistry change and microstructure of the precipitation, we propose that viral lysis of cyanobacteria can construct a calcification environment where carbonate is the dominant inorganic carbon species. Numerous virus particles available in lysate may coprecipitate with the calcium carbonate. The experimental results presented in this study demonstrate both the pathway and the outcome with respect to how viruses influence the mineralization of carbonate minerals. It is suggested that viral calcification offers new perspectives on mechanisms of CaCO3 biomineralization and may play a crucial role within the Earth system.