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Researchers detail marine viruses from pole to pole

April 25, 2019

Researchers detail marine viruses from pole to pole

Tara Oceans

Arctic a previously unrecognized ‘cradle’ of viral biodiversity

By: Misti Crane

New research provides the most complete account to date of the viruses that impact the world’s oceans, increasing the number of known virus populations tenfold.

“This new understanding of viruses from the northern pole to the southern pole and from the surface to 4,000 meters deep may help scientists better understand how the oceans will behave under the pressures of climate change,” said Ahmed Zayed, co-lead author of the study and microbiology doctoral student at The Ohio State University.

Ahmed Zayed

Researchers analyzed marine samples far and deep in an effort to understand the complexities of viruses, which are increasingly being recognized as important players in the oceans’ role in tempering the effects of climate change.

This new study brings the total known marine viral populations within the ocean close to 200,000 – work that will help scientists better understand their influence throughout the world, including their part in delivering carbon deep into the sea, protecting the atmosphere from further damage. The study, led by researchers at Ohio State, appears online today (April 25) in the journal Cell.

“This is a massively expanded ‘catalog’ of ocean viruses, which we used to draw the first global map of viral diversity,” Zayed said.

Added Ann Gregory, co-lead author of the study, “What was really exciting was now being able to study these viruses at two important levels – the population level and by looking at genetic variation within each population, which tells us about evolution.

“We have expanded the number of known viral populations more than tenfold and this new map will help us understand the impact of ocean viruses on a global level,” said Gregory, formerly of Ohio State and now a postdoctoral trainee in Belgium at KU Leuven.

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