By digging deeper and deeper into the depths of the Arctic, scientists are making chilling discoveries. Like, for example, coming face to face with giant viruses that infect the algae of an extraordinary lake, on the other side of the world.
The results of this research have been published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and show the work of a group of scientists who went to study the spur-platform lake of Milne Fiord, about a hundred kilometers from the North Pole.
This lake has a particularity: it is formed by a mass of fresh water floating just above the sea water – which is denser. Covered by a layer of ice, the two types of water are thus protected from the waves and the wind which could mix them. In this magical environment, scientists have made a no less amazing discovery.
By taking and then sequencing DNA found in lake water samples, the researchers were able to identify an incredible variety of viruses, some of which belong to the group of giant viruses called Megaviricetes, says Science Alert. Much larger than normal viruses, almost as big as a bacterium!
Even more intriguingly, scientists noticed that these funny viruses, present in fresh water, affected microscopic algae just below the limit with salt water. A still unexplained phenomenon.
The waters of this atypical lake could well hide other surprises. Unfortunately, as the scientific media indicates, its days are numbered: rising temperatures could soon destroy a dam of ice that protects this unique environment. The race against time is on.