For more than two decades, marine researchers have been reporting the discovery of virus particles in saltwater. This discovery was initially surprising, but virus particles have continued to be discovered in seawater. Cyanobacteria, for example, are a kind of prokaryotic and eukaryotic protist producer that can be found in practically all marine food chains and is responsible for the production of cyanobacteria. Microorganisms such as phytoplankton, sometimes known as microscopic plants, are the world's most important carbon fixers and oxygen producers, responsible for eliminating carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A tremendous amount of virus particles were detected in seawater, which resulted in several issues being experienced by researchers. Can viruses that infect phytoplankton colonies keep control over the number of organisms that they infect and infect? What influence viruses have on the carbon and oxygen cycles in food chains can be determined, but how do you go about determining that? It remains to be seen if scientists will be able to include marine viruses in their models of ocean ecosystems. The inhalation or ingestion of any of these viruses by humans may provide a risk of infection.
Viruses found in the water play a crucial part in this process.
Since the 1990s, researchers have made major strides forward in their understanding of marine viral pathogenesis. Among others who have done a study on marine viruses in the water is Lita Proctor of the University of California, Los Angeles. After their host cells have perished, according to Proctor's observations, marine viruses are only discovered to float freely after they have died. The fact that Proctor found this while utilizing electron microscopy to support his thesis is noteworthy.
Researchers from the Department of Marine Biology at the University of British Columbia and its colleagues have discovered the exact types of marine viruses that exist, as well as the jobs that these viruses perform. Suttle employed immunoglobulins that were tagged with fluorescent dyes to identify certain viruses and the hosts that they infected to develop a better understanding of how viruses spread. As Suttle points out, there are several distinct forms of marine viruses that may infect phytoplankton and cause them to cease photosynthesis. He made an effort to remove particular types of viruses from their hosts out of concern for the health of the hosts in which they lived. It was just the phytoplankton that had ceased growing, according to Suttle, and this was due to a lack of nutrients.
Upon the death of a host-virus, nutrients that were essential for the survival of other species were released. The findings of Suttle's research indicate that viruses are responsible for the mortality of around 20 percent of all phytoplankton species at any one moment. Following Suttle's studies, marine viruses have a significant impact on the carbon cycle, in addition to other areas of ecological interaction and interaction.
Marine Viruses That Are Transmissible to Humans is a current research project.
With the use of molecular genetics technology, scientists have been able to identify viruses that have been connected to human illness in the rivers around numerous coastal places. The presence of a range of potentially harmful viruses in sewage that is dumped into the ocean is a possibility. As of right now, it has been demonstrated that saltwater contains poliovirus, hepatitis A virus, and maybe HIV. Researchers say it is still up in the air whether or not these submerged viruses will have an impact on swimming enthusiasts.
Even though research on marine viruses is still in its infancy, the relevance of these viruses cannot be overstated. In part, because only 2% of phytoplankton can be cultured at this time, research into marine viruses is more challenging.
• Modern Biology byJohn H. Postlethwait
Janet L. Hopson, ISBN 0-03-065178