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The scientists reported that thousands of strange viruses that were newly discovered hiding in the world’s oceans might exert a huge impact on the ecosystems, in part by “reprogramming” the hosts they corrupt.

The new study, published Thursday, June 9th, in the journal Science, concentrates on viruses that comprise RNA, a molecular cousin of DNA. Varieties of RNA viruses abound in human infection; for example, both coronaviruses and influenza viruses are RNA-based. Nonetheless, regarding the RNA viruses in the ocean, scientists are barely just learning about the diversity that can be uncovered and the range of hosts they can feed on.

From the recent study, “we are certainly sure that most RNA viruses in the ocean are infecting microbial eukaryotes, so fungi and protists, and to a lesser extent, invertebrates,” said the co-first author Guillermo Dominguez-Huerta, who was a postdoctoral scholar in viral ecology at Ohio State University (OSU) at the time of the study, told Live Science.

Eukaryotes are organisms with complicated cells that contain their genetic material inside a nucleus.

“Given the abundance of RNA virus particles, knowing they can do this continues to build the story of how important viruses are in the world with respect to how energy and carbon flow,” Wilhelm told LiveScience in an email.

The scientists inferred that the viral communities could be ordered into four major zones – the Arctic, Antarctic, Temperate, and Tropical Epipelagic, meaning near to the ocean surface, and Temperate and Tropical Mesopelagic, meaning about 656 to 3,280 feet or 200 to 1,000 meters below the water. Interestingly, the diversity of viruses seemed elevated in the polar zones, despite a wider variety of hosts to contaminate in warmer waters.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.

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