Scientists discovered an organism that hunts and eats viruses

Scientists discovered an organism that hunts and eats viruses

Scientists have discovered something intriguing in a new type of organism that actually eats viruses. Virovores are also known for eating viruses in an accidental way. They will go to great lengths to help those who eat viruses.

John DeLong, a researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was the first to discover that microbes eat viruses. To do this, DeLong and his team collected samples of pond water and then isolated different microbes from the water. They then added chlorovirus to the water, which is a freshwater viral that attacks green algae. DeLong and his colleagues then watched as a particular microbe named Halteria started to eat the virus. Further, in samples of the water that did not offer other food sources for Halteria, the microbe grew about 15 times within two days just by eating the chlorovirus. Even more interesting, the bacteria didn’t grow in samples without the virus.

To further test the hypothesis that the organism was eating the virus, the researchers added dye to the chlorovirus DNA. The researchers later discovered that Halteria cells started to glow and that they were indeed feeding the virus. The group was able to create a new term, virovory.

Virovory essentially is exactly the same as herbivory and carnivory, thereby determining that these organisms eat viruses to survive and sustain themselves. Halteria, however, is unlikely to be the sole virovore. As such, the researchers plan to continue experimenting and looking for other organisms that can eat viruses in the same way.

The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Further research into this topic could assist with finding organisms that can eat viruses found in the human body, perhaps even giving us a new way to fight certain infections. With scientists finding ancient viruses, having organisms that can snack on them could be very helpful for keeping them under control.

We’re already using viruses to fight cancer, so it isn’t entirely impossible. Although it’s still a far-fetched goal, the possibilities this may open are exciting.

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