Coral foe becomes a friend Nature.com Seaweed often inhibits the growth of corals, but it can help them when they are faced with a coral-eating starfish. Seaweed can suppress coral growth by shading it from sunlight and by releasing toxic chemicals.
Viruses constitute the most abundant biological entities and a large reservoir of genetic diversity on Earth. Despite the recent surge in their study, our knowledge on their actual biodiversity and distribution remains sparse. We report the first metagenomic analysis of Arctic freshwater viral DNA communities and a comparative analysis with other freshwater environments. Arctic viromes are dominated by unknown and single-stranded DNA viruses with no close relatives in the database. These unique viral DNA communities mostly relate to each other and present some minor genetic overlap with other environments studied, including an Arctic Ocean virome. Despite common environmental conditions in polar ecosystems, the Arctic and Antarctic DNA viromes differ at the fine-grain genetic level while sharing a similar taxonomic composition. The study uncovers some viral lineages with a bipolar distribution, suggesting a global dispersal capacity for viruses, and seemingly indicates that viruses do not follow the latitudinal diversity gradient known for macroorganisms. Our study sheds light into the global biogeography and connectivity of viral communities.
Viral ecology is a rapidly progressing area of research, as molecular methods have improved significantly for targeted research on specific populations and whole communities. To interpret and synthesize global viral diversity and distribution, it is feasible to assess whether macroecology concepts can apply to marine viruses. We review how viral and host life history and physical properties can influence viral distribution in light of biogeography and meta-community ecology paradigms. We highlight analytical approaches that can be applied to emerging global data sets and meta-analyses to identify individual taxa with global influence and drivers of emergent properties that influence microbial community structure by drawing on examples across the spectrum of viral taxa, from RNA to ssDNA and dsDNA viruses.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
Excellent! Just when we needed one B-) Thanks, Flavia!
(Phys.org)—What have viruses ever done for humans? The question is debatable, but given the prevalence of highly contagious, and sometimes life-threatening illnesses caused by viruses, it's fair to say that most people would like to see the tables turned on these often-nasty bundles of DNA strands.
SOMEWHERE ON THE North Carolina State campus, a machine has been puking vanilla pudding. Aerosolized vomit-pudding sprays out of its mouth, which stretches open in permanent retching position. Unpleasant? Not as unpleasant as the real-life scenario the vomiting machine is testing: whether norovirus spreads through aerosolized human puke.
Bad news, the answer is probably yes, according to the vomiting machine researchers who published their results in PLoS ONE today. Norovirus causes 20 million cases of food poisoning in the US every year—usually on cruises and other confined spaces with cafeterias. The virus is highly contagious. Epidemiologists have long suspected that barfing sends the virus airborne, allowing it to land on new surfaces or, for the especially unlucky bystander, right in his or her mouth. Gross, but very convenient for a virus that causes puking.
Working as part of an international team in the United States and West Africa, a researcher at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has published new findings showing the ancient roots of the deadly Lassa virus, a relative of Ebola virus, and how Lassa virus has changed over time.
The ecological importance of viruses is now widely recognized, yet our limited knowledge of viral sequence space and virus-host interactions precludes accurate prediction of their roles and impacts. Here we mined publicly available bacterial and archaeal genomic datasets to identify 12,498 high‑confidence viral genomes linked to their microbial hosts. These data augment public datasets 10-fold, provide first viral sequences for 13 new bacterial phyla including ecologically abundant phyla, and help taxonomically identify 7-38% of 'unknown' sequence space in viromes. Genome- and network-based classification was largely consistent with accepted viral taxonomy and suggested that ( i ) 264 new viral genera were identified (doubling known genera) and ( ii ) cross-taxon genomic recombination is limited. Further analyses provided empirical data on extrachromosomal prophages and co‑infection prevalences, as well as evaluation of in silico virus-host linkage predictions. Together these findings illustrate the value of mining viral signal from microbial genomes.
Antarctica’s apparent barrenness hides an abundance of living organisms.
Look in a different direction, however, and the illusion fades. Scott knew this. “As one looks across the barren stretches of the pack, it is sometimes difficult to realise what teeming life exists immediately beneath its surface,” he wrote. “Beneath the placid ice floes and under the calm water pools the old universal warfare is raging incessantly in the struggle for existence.” There is life in Antarctica; you just need to know where to look.
Ed Rybicki's insight:
And Flavia Flaviani's results will add considerably to this richness...B-)
The identification of an exchange of nutrients and signalling molecules between a planktonic alga and a bacterium demonstrates that targeted mutualistic interactions occur across domains of life in the oceans.
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