A team of researchers has found a trove of new viruses in one of the most unexpected places: the bottom of the ocean. During a massive study which took place over a decade, the researchers managed to track down and classify almost 200,000 viruses. Humans are immune to most of them, but they are still able to spread among marine life like crustaceans and whales.
The data obtained by analyzing these viruses is very valuable since it allows scientists to learn more about how climate change can affect the sea and marine life. It is already thought that some of the viruses can be used to measure the balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen as many of the organisms which can be found in the sea can recycle oxygen.
About 200,000 new types of viruses discovered on the bottom of the sea
It is well-known that oceans can absorb and keep a large amount of CO2, and many of the life forms consume the gas. If the amount found in water reaches a critical level, the area will become too acidic, and some species will not be able to survive.
The team compiled a map which depicts the areas where viruses were found, up to a maximum depth of 4,000 meters. From one point of view, the presence of such a massive amount of viruses is a great thing since it proves that the oceanic environment has remained stable and it is still able to support a large variety of organisms.
The map will also help other researchers to observe and explore virus hot zones, facilitating our understanding of the processes used by the oceans to remain cool in the long run and unlocking new applications in biochemistry.
Past studies tended to avoid microbes and viruses, but researchers are now convinced that they are useful and have the potential to convey useful information in the long run. The results of the study were published in a peer-reviewed journal.