Plankton Goes Viral

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In just one gulp of seawater, there are roughly 200 million viruses. But before canceling your seaside vacation, consider this: These viruses have their sights set on the ocean’s microorganisms, such as plankton. Scientists got an unprecedented look at the viruses swirling around the upper ocean as a result of the Tara Oceans expedition. From 2009 to 2013, scientists sampled 26 sites across the world’s oceans. Jennifer Brum and Matthew Sullivan, from the University of Arizona, are among the researchers studying these samples to catalog and understand the viruses that influence the ocean’s—and by extension, the world’s—ecosystem. Their results were published in the journal Science this week.

In the photo above: electron micrograph of viruses from the Mediterranean Sea, isolated from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus. (Note: These viruses do not have a name.) Image by J.R. Brum and M.B. Sullivan, Tucson Marine Phage Lab, University of Arizona.

GUESTS

Jennifer Brum
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Matthew Sullivan
Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

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