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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Discovered an organism that can feed exclusively on viruses. I study

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These are ciliated and planktonic microorganisms of the genus Halteria, which live in fresh water. The discovery is thanks to a team of scientists from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln

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“Viruses are not only a source of infection, but also of nutrition.” This is the conclusion of a new study, coordinated by the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which has discovered an organism that can feed exclusively on viral particles for survival, exploiting them as the sole source of food for both physiological and human grow. colony. These are ciliated and planktonic microorganisms of the genus Halteria, protists that live in fresh water such as ponds and lakes.

For some organisms, a virus-only diet is possible

As explained in the pages of the specialist journal Pnas, through experiments in the laboratory, the research team was able to show for the first time that a diet based only on viruses, which the team calls “virovory”, is sufficient to stimulate growth. of these organisms. The result is the result of a study conducted by American researchers from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, in collaboration with colleagues from the Department of Plant Pathology and the Nebraska Center for Virology.

The study in detail

To reach this conclusion, the research team, coordinated by Professor John P. DeLong, took water from a pond and added chloroviruses, large viruses known to infect green microalgae, until they exploded. By studying the behavior of two microorganisms present in the water, the paramecium (gene Paramecium) and the ciliate Halteria, the scientists noted that in this context of microscopic predation, the population of Halteria grew 15 times, while that of the chloroviruses decreased by 100. time. To confirm that the Halteria population was indeed consuming the virus, the team tagged some of the chlorovirus DNA with a green fluorescent dye, which was later found in the “stomachs” of the micro-orgisms.

Next study

Viruses, as explained by the scholars, “contain compounds such as lipids, nitrogen, nucleic acids, phosphorus and other elements that can be a ‘good meal’ for other mycoorganisms”. According to scientists, ciliates in a pond could devour 10 trillion viruses in one day. In the coming months, the researchers will verify what emerged in the lab through ah-hoc studies in a few ponds.

Source: TG 24 Sky

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