Viruses and bacterial viruses (known as phages) are among the most abundant life forms on the planet. Two papers published recently in Nature, March 2 and 12, 2008, analyse the geographical distribution of viral communities in modern organosedimentary structures (sedimentary features, built by the interaction of organisms and their environment) known as microbialites, the living analogues of the oldest fossils on Earth, and come up with some surprising nuggets of information.
Microbialites first appeared in the geological record, 3.5 billion years ago, and for more than 2 billion years they are the main evidence of life on Earth. A team of scientists from US and Singapore used a comparative metagenomics approach to show that phages associated with such structures are very different not only from each other but also from those found in any other ecosystem so far. The team’s findings indicate that modern microbialites are endemic remnants of ancient ecosystems.
Dr Ruan Yijun, Senior Group Leader at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), said, “Using DNA sequencing technology, we were able to identify unknown viruses in various environments relevant to human health. This collaboration is the first ever large-scale effort to analyse biodiversity and biogeography of viruses in the environments around humans.”
“We have been interested in this kind of analysis since the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2002,” added Dr Ruan. “In pursuit of this interest, we established a virus discovery programme at GIS, resulting in the discovery of abundant viruses in the human gut (PLoS Biology, 2006) and different variants of dengue viruses. Now, with more viral metagenomic data accumulated, we are able to summarise the biodiversity and biogeography on a global scale.”
Microbialites are organosedimentary structures accreted by sediment trapping, binding and in situ precipitation due to the growth and metabolic activities of microorganisms.
Stromatolites and thrombolites are morphological types of microbialites classified by their internal mesostructure: layered and clotted, respectively.
Cathy Yarbrough | EurekAlert!
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine