Scientists aboard a single sailboat have identified nearly 200,000 marine virus species, increasing the number of known marine viruses from the 15,000 documented in previous surveys.
The new survey has revealed new details about the distribution of marine viruses across the ocean ecosystem.
Viruses exist at the fringes of life. They don’t have cells or perform normal biological processes or independently reproduce. Instead, they’re more or less bags of genetic material that bump into living cells and inject those cells with the genetic instructions to produce more viruses.
But whether or not viruses count as life, there’s no denying they play an important role in the ecosystems where they’re found.
“Because they’re present in such huge numbers, they really matter,” Matthew Sullivan, a microbiologist at The Ohio State University and senior author on a paper published in Cell today (April 25) describing the findings, said in a statement.
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