- January 19, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject : Science and technology
- The authors of the study have reported that a particular genus of plankton can consume viruses as well as “grow and divide given only viruses to eat”.
- Plankton of the genus Halteria, they claim to have found, can each consume 10,000 to a million virus particles a day, increase their population using the metabolised energy, and provide more food for the zooplanktons that consume the Halteria.
- This could be significant for the marine food chain.
- Halteria plankton are found in large numbers in freshwater bodies. They are heterotrophs meaning they can’t produce their own food. Instead, they are well known bacterivores — they consume bacteria to power themselves.
- In the new study’s paper, the authors wrote that by also consuming viruses for nutrition, Halteria plankton can recover the nutrients lost in the viral shunt and bring them back into the food chain.
- The viral shunt is a mechanism that prevents marine microbial particulate organic matter (POM) from migrating up trophic levels by recycling them into dissolved organic matter (DOM), which can be readily taken up by microorganisms.
- The DOM recycled by the viral shunt pathway is comparable to the amount generated by the other main sources of marine DOM.
- Viruses can easily infect microorganisms in the microbial loop due to their relative abundance compared to microbes.
- Prokaryotic and eukaryotic mortality contribute to carbon nutrient recycling through cell lysis.
- There is evidence as well of nitrogen (specifically ammonium) regeneration. This nutrient recycling helps stimulates microbial growth.
- As much as 25% of the primary production from phytoplankton in the global oceans may be recycled within the microbial loop through the viral shunt.