Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, in the seas are as vital to the survival of life on earth as the oxygen producing plants are on land. But marine bacteria are attacked by viruses, which can seriously affect their life-sustaining abilities but mow a researcher at the University of Warwick has discovered that these viruses dont work in the dark, according to research presented today (Monday, 04 April 2005) at the Society for General Microbiologys 156th Meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
Our earths breathable atmosphere relies on millions and millions of cyanobacteria in the seas absorbing the suns light and giving off oxygen, in exactly the same way as the photosynthetic plants and forests on land act as the other part of the planets lungs. But the whole delicate balance of the seas, and so the overall fate of the planet, relies on even smaller microbes called cyanophages - marine viruses that specifically attack and infect cyanobacteria. These phages can seriously damage the health of the cyanobacteria, and also the sea.
Ying Jia, from the University of Warwick, is presenting new research today (Monday, 04 April 2005) at the Society for General Microbiologys 156th Meeting in Scotland, which shows that these cyanophages depend on light to stick to their victims, and cannot function in the dark. "Understanding the function of light as one of the most important environmental factors of the phage-cyanobacteria interaction is vital," says Ying Jia.
Ms Ying Jia | EurekAlert!
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