From the Abyss: a new virus discovered in the deepest ocean trench on Earth

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(ORDO NEWS) — The Mariana Trench, located in the Pacific Ocean, is known as the deepest place on Earth, reaching a depth of almost 11,000 meters. Despite the extreme conditions, scientists have found that life thrives even in this seemingly inhospitable environment.

In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum , marine virologist Ming Wang and an international team of researchers announced the discovery of a new virus in sediment samples collected from the Mariana Trench.

This find not only expands our understanding of deep-sea ecosystems, but also provides valuable insights into the diversity and evolution of viruses.

Discovery of the deepest known isolated phage

The newly discovered virus, designated vB_HmeY_H4907, belongs to a group of viruses called bacteriophages, which infect and replicate inside bacteria. Bacteriophages are considered the most common forms of life on Earth.

According to Wang, this particular phage is the deepest known isolated phage in the world‘s oceans. The virus infects bacteria belonging to the phylum Halomonas, which are commonly found in deep-sea sediments and hydrothermal vents.

A look into uncharted viral territory

Genetic analysis of vB_HmeY_H4907 revealed the existence of a previously unknown family of viruses in the deep ocean. This discovery not only expanded our knowledge of deep-sea phages, but also provided new insights into their diversity, evolution, and genomic features.

Wang’s team used metagenomic analysis to study viruses that infect bacteria in the order Oceanospirallales, which includes Halomonas. Studying bacterial strains collected by marine virologist Yu-Zhong Zhang and his team allowed this new virus to be isolated and studied.

Coevolution of deep-sea viruses and their hosts

The study of vB_HmeY_H4907 raised intriguing questions about the survival strategies of viruses in extreme and isolated environments, as well as their coevolution with bacterial hosts. The newly discovered virus is lysogenic, meaning it invades a host cell and replicates within it without causing immediate cell death.

When the host cell divides, viral genetic material is copied and transmitted. This unique relationship between the virus and its host opens up prospects for further studies of the molecular mechanisms that determine the interaction of deep-sea viruses.

Unlocking the potential of extreme environments

In the future, Wang and his collaborators plan to further study the molecular mechanisms of interaction between deep-sea viruses and their hosts.

They also intend to continue the search for new viruses in extreme conditions, which could significantly expand our understanding of the virosphere. Wang believes extreme environments provide optimal opportunities to discover new viruses and deepen our understanding of the complex web of life on our planet.

Quotes and expert opinions:

– Marine virologist Min Wang: “Where there is life, regulators probably work… In this case, viruses.”
— Wang on the discovery: “To our knowledge, this is the deepest known isolated phage in the oceans.”
– Wang on future research: “We plan to study the molecular mechanism that governs the interaction between deep-sea viruses and their hosts… Extreme environments offer optimal prospects for discovering new viruses.”


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