Cyanophages are viruses that infect cyanobacteria (blue‐green algae). They are widespread and abundant in aquatic environments and are important mortality agents in aquatic microbial communities. Increasingly they are being recognized as important players in global geochemical cycles.

Keywords: phycoviruses; aquatic viruses; cyanobacteria; blue‐green algae; viruses


Cannon RE, Shane MS and Bush VN (1971) Lysogeny of a blue‐green alga, Plectonema boryanum. Virology 45: 149–153.

Proctor LM and Fuhrman JA (1990) Viral mortality of marine bacteria and cyanobacteria. Nature 343: 60–62.

MacKenzie JJ and Haselkorn R (1972) An electron microscope study of infection by the blue‐green algal virus SM‐1. Virology 49: 505–516.

Martin EL and Benson R (1988) Phages of cyanobacteria. In: Calendar R (ed.) The Bacteriophages, pp. 607–645. New York: Plenum.

Safferman RS and Morris ME (1963) Algal virus: isolation. Science 140: 679–680.

Safferman RS, Cannon RE, Desjardins PR et al. (1983) Classification and nomenclature of viruses of cyanobacteria. Intervirology 19: 61–66.

Suttle CA (In Press) Cyanophages and their role in the ecology of cyanobacteria. In: Whitton BA and Potts M (eds) The Ecology of Cyanobacteria: Their Diversity in Time and Space. Boston: Kluwer.

Suttle CA and Chan AM (1993) Marine cyanophages infecting oceanic and coastal strains of Synechococcus: abundance, morphology, cross‐infectivity and growth characteristics. Marine Ecology Progress Series 92: 99–109.

Suttle CA and Chan AM (1994) Dynamics and distribution of cyanophages and their effect on marine Synechococcus spp. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 60: 3167–3174.

Suttle CA, Chan AM and Cottrell MT (1990) Infection of phytoplankton by viruses and reduction of primary productivity. Nature 347: 467–469.

Waterbury JB and Valois FW (1993) Resistance to co‐occurring phages enables marine Synechococcus communities to coexist with cyanophages abundant in seawater. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 59: 3393–3399.

Further Reading

Ackermann H‐W and DuBow MS (1987) Viruses of Prokaryotes, vols 1 and 2. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Kozyakov SYa (1977) Cyanophages of the series A(L) specific for blue‐green alga Anabaena variabilis. In: Gromov BV (ed.) Experimental Algology, pp. 151–171. Leningrad: Leningrad State University.

Padan E and Shilo M (1973) Cyanophages – viruses attacking blue‐green algae. Bacteriological Reviews 37: 343–370.

Safferman RS (1973) Phycoviruses. In: Carr NG and Whitton BA (eds) The Biology of Blue‐Green Algae, pp. 214–237. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Safferman RS, Schneider IR, Steere RL, Morris ME and Diener TO (1969) Phycovirus SM‐1: a virus infecting unicellular blue‐green algae. Virology 37: 386–395.

Sherman LA and Brown RM Jr (1978) Cyanophages and viruses of eukaryotic algae. In: Fraenkel‐Conrat H and Wagner RR (eds) Comprehensive Virology 12, pp. 145–234. New York: Plenum Press.

Stewart WDP and Daft MJ (1977) Microbial pathogens of cyanophycean blooms. In: Droop MR and Jannasch HW (eds) Advances in Aquatic Microbiology, pp. 177–218. New York: Academic Press.

Suttle CA (In Press) The ecological, evolutionary and geochemical consequences of viral infection of cyanobacteria and eukaryotic algae. In: Hurst C (ed.) Viral Ecology. London: Academic Press.

Wilson WH, Joint IR, Carr NG and Mann NH (1993) Isolation and molecular characterization of five marine cyanophages propagated on Synechococcus sp. strain WH7803. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 59: 3736–3743.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Suttle, Curtis A(Apr 2001) Cyanophages. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000775]