US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The number and variety of viruses on Earth is hard to imagine. Studies of sea water easily bring hundreds of thousands of new species “at a time”: each milliliter of it contains about 10 million viral particles, and many are still not fully understood.
Fortunately, these intracellular parasites are highly specialized and rarely infect representatives of different species, especially those quite distant from each other. Plant viruses are harmless to animals, and viruses that infect fish are powerless to humans.
In a new work by environmentalists from the Netherlands Royal Institute for Marine Research (NIOZ), another mechanism for reducing this global threat is considered – organisms that are not masters of certain viruses, but are able to actively deactivate them and remove them from circulation. An article by Jennifer Welsh and her colleagues is published in Scientific Reports.
Scientists performed experiments in the laboratory, monitoring how the water content of the particles of the PgV-07T virus attacking the algae changes in the presence of various marine animals: sea anemones, larvae of polychaete worms, ascidia, crustaceans, oysters, mussels, sponges. Organisms with a filtering type of food have indeed been very effective in removing the virus from water.
For three hours in an aquarium with a sponge, the amount of pathogen particles decreased by up to 94 percent, per day – up to 98 percent. The second line in this indicator was occupied by crabs (90 percent in 24 hours), and the third and fourth – mussels (43 percent) and oysters (12 percent).
Of course, in real life, everything is much more complicated, and these results should not be directly transferred to natural conditions. Nevertheless, Jennifer Welch and her colleagues believe that too little attention is still paid to the participation of organisms – not the hosts and non-carriers of the virus – in its “cycle”. Meanwhile, such mechanisms can serve as a powerful factor in restraining the spread of infectious outbreaks.
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