From: DOE Joint Genome Institute
Published October 12, 2017 11:24 AM

Tracking the Viral Parasites of Giant Viruses over Time

In freshwater lakes, microbes regulate the flow of carbon and determine if the bodies of water serve as carbon sinks or carbon sources. Algae and cyanobacteria in particular can trap and use carbon, but their capacity to do so may be impacted by viruses. Viruses exist amidst all bacteria, usually in a 10-fold excess, and are made up of various sizes ranging from giant viruses, to much smaller viruses known as virophages (which live in giant viruses and use their machinery to replicate and spread.)

Virophages can change the way a giant virus interacts with its host eukaryotic cell. For example, if algae are co-infected by a virophage and giant virus, the virophage limits the giant virus’ ability to replicate efficiently. This reduces the impact a giant virus has on the diversion of nutrients, allowing the host algae to multiply, which could lead to more frequent algal blooms.

Read more at DOE Joint Genome Institute

Image: The team used data from a 3-year metagenomic time series collected from Trout Bog Lake, a small acidic bog in Wisconsin.

(Image courtesy of Trina McMahon)

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