Probing deep-sea mystery: microbes immune to same viruses

Sunday, May 21, 2023 - 14:32 in Biology & Nature

In a study published in Nature Microbiology, Harvard researchers found evidence that viruses infecting microbes in the deep sea interact with a far more diverse set of hosts than previously thought. The findings could aid in better understanding of viruses and in engineering new therapies. The discovery followed a 2021 expedition in the Guaymas Basin, Mexico, where lead author Ph.D. candidate Yunha Hwang and senior author Professor Peter Girguis, both of the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, had collected bacteria and archaea samples from deep-sea hydrothermal vent microbial mats. While both are microbial, bacteria and archaea are about as different from each other as bacteria are from people. So Hwang and Girguis were surprised to find that they carry immunity against the same viruses. At hydrothermal vents, where the samples were taken, the two microorganisms form aggregates that can harness energy from methane, a symbiotic relationship necessary for survival. Could immunity...

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