Pole-to-pole study of ocean life identifies nearly 200,000 marine viruses

ScienceDaily | 4/25/2019 | Staff
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"Viruses are these tiny things that you can't even see, but because they're present in such huge numbers, they really matter," says senior author Matthew Sullivan (@Lab_Sullivan), a microbiologist at the Ohio State University. "We've developed a distribution map that is foundational for anyone who wants to study how viruses manipulate the ecosystem. There were many things that surprised us about our findings."

Among the surprises was the existence of these nearly 200,000 marine viral species. Additionally, meta-community analysis showed that the viruses were organized into five distinct ecological zones throughout the entire ocean, which was unexpected given the fluid nature of the oceans and the complexity of many of the marine regions. Also, despite the paradigm from larger organisms that species diversity is highest near the equator and lowest near the poles, the researchers collected an extensive number of samples in the Arctic compared to previous studies of ocean life and found a biodiversity hotspot in the Arctic Ocean.

Samples - Tara - Part - Tara - Oceans

The samples were collected between 2009 and 2013 on the Tara as part of the Tara Oceans effort. Begun in 2006, the Tara project aims to conduct unique and innovative ocean science with the goal of predicting and better anticipating the impacts of climate change. In the current effort, a rotating team of scientists spent time on the boat collecting ocean water samples from different depths across many geographical regions. After being collected, the samples for this study were filtered and shipped back to about a dozen different labs for analysis.

The investigators studied not only the water samples for viruses, but also other microbes and other living creatures. "We filtered the samples to analyze organisms ranging in size from...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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