Home News More than 5,000 new viruses discovered in the oceans

More than 5,000 new viruses discovered in the oceans


An international team of researchers has made a major discovery after identifying some 5,500 viruses in the oceans previously unknown to scientists.

Published on April 7 in the journal Science, the study presents the results of research based, among other things, on the analysis of 35,000 water samples taken from the oceans around the world during Tara Oceans expeditions, a French sailboat intended for scientific research and the defense of the environment. Challenges of these expeditions: understanding the role of RNA viruses in marine ecosystems.

“Apart from their roles in human infectious diseases, we understand relatively little about RNA viruses worldwide. Recently, the discovery curve has been dramatic and has revealed unexpected diversity,” the researchers explained in the journal Science.

The news was also taken up by the CNRS in a tweet: “From samples taken in oceans around the world during Tara Oceans expeditions, an international team has identified 5,500 new species of RNA virus»

This major discovery has also forced them to create new levels of classification, the five current ranks no longer sufficient to catalog these newcomers.

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Essential viruses

According to research teams, nearly a billion RNA viruses are present in the oceans. They would make it possible to regulate marine ecosystems by preventing, for example, that one organism takes over the others by infecting them.

Another significant action of these viruses, they could “poison” the carbon present in the oceans, paving the way for new studies.

Thus, researchers could better understand the phenomenon of global warming and its impact on the planet.

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