Scientists Discover More Than 200,000 Ocean Viruses

Scientists Discover More Than 200,000 Ocean Viruses

Scientists find out more than 200,000 kinds of ocean viruses. “This is a pretty amazing study,” said Louis-Marie Bobay, a microbial genomicist from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, who was not involved in the work. “We know so little about viral ecology in much of the ocean, and this is some of the most impressive, and global, data ever collected.”

In 2015 a team recognized 5,476 ocean viruses. In 2016 the same team updated its count to 15,222. But this time a study published in Cell announced that 195,728 ocean viruses has been detected. The new count is 12 times higher than what the previous census of marine viruses recorded in 2016.

As informed Livescience, Matthew Sullivan, a microbiologist at the Ohio State University and senior author on a paper published in Cell on April 25 indicating the findings and saying in a statement “Because they’re present in such huge numbers, they really matter”.

Around 40 percent of the novel virus populations came from the new Arctic samples. The rest came from reanalysis of Tara samples used for the earlier studies. “The algorithms we use to assemble viral genomes out of chunks of DNA got much, much better,” said Ann Gregory, a microbial ecologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and one of the lead authors of the study.

The new research will help biologists understand how viruses affect the marine ecosystem.

A microbiologist Sullivan claimed that in the last 20 years or so, they were learned that half of the oxygen that humans breathe came from marine organisms,” Sullivan said. “Additionally, the oceans soak up half of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

A microbial ecologist at the University of Michigan, Melissa Duhaime, said “When you first begin looking at new data like this, it’s like landing on Mars and looking around for the first time,” Duhaime said, “but a Mars with little critters never described before staring back at you.”

Scientists Discover More Than 200,000 Ocean Viruses
Micrograph images of some of the viruses catalogued in the new survey

Source: Text; www.livescience.com, www.quantamagazine.org

Image credit; www.quantamagazine.org