Researchers say a new virus discovered in the Mariana Trench could be the deepest bacteriophage ever discovered in the ocean.
A team of scientists has identified what may be the deepest virus in the Earth’s oceans.
They discovered a new virus in sediments collected from a depth of 8,900 meters in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
This trench is the deepest place on Earth, with its lowest point reaching 11,000 meters near the Mariana Islands.
“To our knowledge, this is the deepest isolated phage known in the global ocean.”Min Wang, a marine virologist, says, In a press release.
The Oceanic University of China team published their findings last week in the journal Spectrum of microbiology.
The newly discovered deep-sea virus, called vB_HmeY_H4907, is a bacteriophage, meaning it infects and reproduces within bacteria.
These phages infect bacteria called Halomonas, which are abundant in the Mariana Trench and in hydrothermal vents — cracks in the seafloor through which hot water is released.
Genomic analysis of the virus indicates that it resembles its bacterial host and is widespread in the ocean.
The researchers say that the new bacteria belong to a new viral family called Surviridae.
The virus was discovered in the ocean’s hadal region, which lies at a depth of between 6,000 and 11,000 metres, and is named after the Greek god of the underworld, Hades.
“Recent research has revealed the enormous diversity, novelty, and ecological importance of hadalviruses. However, only two strains of hadalviruses have been isolated.”As the researchers pointed out in their study.
The identification of these new phages allows us to better understand how viruses in this part of the ocean behave in challenging environments, in particular through coevolution with bacterial hosts.
The mistletoe zone is home to many unique organisms that are able to adapt to extreme conditions such as low temperatures, high pressure, and lack of light found in the depths of the sea.
Marine virologists are now looking for other new viruses in extreme locations.
“Extreme environments provide ideal prospects for discovering new viruses.”Min Wang confirms.
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