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Identical Virus, Host Populations Can Prevail for Centuries, WHOI Researcher Reports

A Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientist, analyzing ancient plankton DNA signatures in sediments of the Black Sea, has found for the first time that the same genetic populations of a virus and its algal host can persist and coexist for centuries. The findings have implications for the ecological significance of viruses in shaping algae ecosystems in the ocean, and perhaps fresh water as well.

“The finding that the DNA of viruses and algal host cells can be preserved in the geological records is of great interest to microbial ecologists,” said Marco Coolen of WHOI’s Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry department and author of the study, which appears in the July 22 issue of Science. “This offers unprecedented insights into long-term algal, viral, and host population dynamics between globally important algae and their viral pathogens in the ocean.” (more…)

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