Scientists Uncover Organisms That Eat Viruses


It’s been a banner yr for viruses. One of the nasty little things has shut down massive components of human civilization, knocked the financial system mindless, killed greater than 1,000,000, and sickened numerous extra.

In any case that, it’s good to see one thing take a chew out of viruses as a substitute of vice versa. To wit, scientists simply introduced the invention of two organisms that eats viruses — the primary credible discovering of that kind of creature.

“Our information present that many protist cells comprise DNA of all kinds of non-infectious viruses however not micro organism, sturdy proof that they’re feeding on viruses moderately than on micro organism,” mentioned corresponding creator Ramunas Stepanauskas, director of the Single Cell Genomics Middle at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, in a statement. “That got here as an enormous shock, as these findings go towards the at the moment predominant views of the position of viruses and protists within the marine meals webs.”

The research, revealed within the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, identifies two single-cell organisms, each discovered off the coast of Maine, that the researchers say can gobble down viruses.

The researchers collected samples of ocean water after which sequenced the genetic materials from 1,698 organisms they present in them. In two forms of tiny critters, referred to as choanozoans and picozoans, they discovered samples of viral genetic code — and since neither are susceptible to viral an infection, the scientists consider they’ve been snacking on viruses.

So far as scientists know, that’s uncommon in Earth’s ecosystem. Though there’s a substantial biomass of viruses, particularly within the oceans, the 2 organisms discovered within the new analysis are the one ones recognized to eat them for diet.

“Viruses are wealthy in phosphorus and nitrogen, and will doubtlessly be a very good complement to a carbon-rich weight loss program that may embrace mobile prey or carbon-rich marine colloids,” mentioned Julia Brown, additionally on the Bigelow Laboratory and a coauthor of the paper. “The elimination of viruses from the water could cut back the variety of viruses obtainable to contaminate different organisms, whereas additionally shuttling the natural carbon inside virus particles greater up the meals chain.”


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