The oceans hide all kinds of secrets and unknowns in the depths – like the 195,728 viruses lurking beneath water during a pole-to-pole expedition conducted to observe marine life. The researchers say the vast majority have never been seen before.
Previously, we only knew about 15,000 of these ocean viruses, so this study is a big deal for our understanding of our planet.
The researchers say the results can teach us everything about everything The evolution of life on Earth to the potential consequences of climate change.
The research is based on samples collected by a crew aboard the Tara between 2009 and 2013, a vessel that has spent more than a decade studying the water. The science of ocean and clues can give us how our world is developing.
"Viruses are these tiny things you can not even see, but because they are so abundant, they are really important," says he microbiologist Matthew Sullivan from Ohio State University.
"We have developed a distribution map that is fundamental to anyone who studies how viruses manipulate the ecosystem, and there were many things that surprised us with our results."
Despite the large number of viruses detected and the enormous complexity of the world's marine regions, the research team has been able to divide the viruses into five distinct ecological zones – all depths of the Arctic and Antarctic and three different depths of temperate and tropical regions.
In fact, the Arctic Ocean, where researchers had not reckoned with the greatest biodiversity, proved an unexpected life point. All of this contributes to our understanding of how viruses on the planet occur.
Scientists estimate that there are many millions of viruses in the ocean, many of which may also exist outside the water and even in our own bodies. If you can identify more of them, you can learn more about life itself, not just about underwater life.
For the purposes of this study, as well as finding new viruses in water samples from depths up to 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), researchers also identified new strains from the analysis of other microbes and living organisms that have settled in the oceans.
The scope of the new research is also significant because it helps scientists to more accurately calculate the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide the atmosphere – marine organisms help recycle oxygen, while the oceans also absorb and store a lot of CO2.
More sub-surface life means more CO2 being converted into organic carbon and biomass – stored deep in the ocean – rather than acidifying CO2 and killing the underwater world. It is a delicate and complex system of mechanisms.
"A new map of where these viruses are located can help us to understand this" carbon pump for oceans "and, more broadly, the biogeochemistry that affects the planet." ] "Previous ocean ecosystem models have often ignored microbes and rarely included viruses, but we now know they are an important component."
The research was published in Cell .