Almost 200,000 Never-Before-Seen Viruses Were Just Discovered Hidden in Our Oceans

Oct 2010
67,379
27,283
Colorado
#1
We'll discover sooner sooner or later, just as we did with bacteria, that viruses come in beneficial and pathological varieties. Meanwhile, right before our eyes:

Almost 200,000 Never-Before-Seen Viruses Were Just Discovered Hidden in Our Oceans
The oceans hide all kinds of secrets and unknowns in the deep – like the 195,728 viruses that scientists just found lurking underwater, during the course of a pole-to-pole expedition carried out to survey marine life. The researchers say the vast majority have never been seen before.​
Prior to this, we only definitively knew about 15,000 of these ocean viruses - so this study is a huge deal for our understanding of our planet.​
The researchers say the findings can teach us more about everything from the evolution of life on the planet to the potential consequences of climate change....​
Scientists estimate there are many tens of millions of viruses in the ocean, many of which might exist out of the water as well, and even in our own bodies. Being able to identify more of them can teach us more about life itself, not just life underwater....​
More life below the surface of the water means more CO2 converted into organic carbon and biomass, stored deep in the sea – rather than CO2 acidifying the oceans, and killing off marine lifealong the way. It's a delicate and complex set of mechanisms.​

More: Almost 200,000 Never-Before-Seen Viruses Were Just Discovered Hidden in Our Oceans
 
Oct 2010
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27,283
Colorado
#2
Ooops, I'm behind the times.

Friendly Viruses Protect Us Against Bacteria
Bacteria can be friends and foes—causing infection and disease, but also helping us slim down and even combating acne. Now, a new study reveals that viruses have a dual nature as well. For the first time, researchers have shown that they can help our bodies fight off invading microbes.​
...One of our most important lines of defense against bacterial invaders is mucus. The slimy substance coats the inside of the mouth, nose, eyelids, and digestive tract, to name just a few places, creating a barrier to the outside world.​
"Mucus is actually a really cool and complex substance," says Jeremy Barr, a microbiologist at San Diego State University in California and lead author of the new study. Its gel-like consistency is thanks to mucins, large, bottle brush-shaped molecules made of a protein backbone surrounded by strings of sugars. In between the mucins is a soup of nutrients and chemicals adapted to keep germs close, but not too close. Microbes such as bacteria live near the surface of the layer, whereas the mucus at the bottom, near the cells that produced it, is almost sterile.​
Mucus is also home to phages, viruses that infect and kill bacteria. They can be found wherever bacteria reside, but Barr and his colleagues noticed that there were even more phages in mucus than in mucus-free areas just millimeters away. The saliva surrounding human gums, for example, had about five phages to every bacterial cell, while the ratio at the mucosal surface of the gum itself was closer to 40 to 1. "That spurred the question," Barr says. "What are these phages doing? Are they protecting the host?"​

Read more: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2013/05/friendly-viruses-protect-us-against-bacteria
 
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