(445b) Effects of Temperature, pH and Salt on Pathogenicity of Vampirovibrio Chlorellavorous, a Pathogen Found in Outdoor Algal Cultivation Systems

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Vampirovibrio chlorellavorous is a member of the phylum cyanobacteria that has been described as an obligate pathogen of several of the green microalga, Chlorella. It utilizes as yet unknown functions to access the contents of individual Chlorella sp. host cells, which results in cell death. Its presence in a cultivated Chlorella sorokiniana culture was first discovered using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the 16S ribosomal DNA gene, followed by DNA sequencing. Its continued routine detection throughout much of the cultivation season suggested it was an endemic member of the phycosphere community in this open cultivation system, located in Tucson, Arizona. Ultimately, its presence under cultivation and environmental conditions has resulted in rapid death of Chlorella sorokiniana in open pond systems and reduced biomass harvest. PCR analysis of total DNA isolated from sand and soil layers removed from a nearby riverbed indicated that V. chlorellavorous resides naturally in the riverbed. The ability to manage this bacterial pathogen in cultivated Chlorella host species is hindered by the limited information available in the literature regarding the biological and genomic characteristics of V. chlorellavorous. The objective of this study was to indentify environmental factors that trigger the apparent increased growth rate of Vampirovibrio and rapid algal death during the cultivation cycle. In laboratory experiments, V. chlorellavorous was shown to cause death of Chlorella sorokiniana when the temperature exceeded 28 C, whereas, algal death was not observed when the temperature was 24 C or lower, among the temperatures tested. Also, the bacterium was more pathogenic to Chlorella sorokiniana, grown in open cultivation systems during the summer months, compared to the cooler season months. Initial experiments also indicated that pH may have some effect on V. chlorellavorous growth. Futhermore, when Chlorella sorokiniana and V. chlorellavorous were co-cultivated in the presence of sodium chloride ranging from 0-10g per liter, the growth of the bacterium was not impeded to any extent that might suggest Chlorella sorokiniana was rendered less susceptibility to pathogen attack. Future work involve examining more triggers and ways to inhibit V. chlorellavorous growth.