Giant viruses discovered in the Arctic

A team of Canadian scientists have discovered “giant viruses” deep in the Arctic. Time is limited because the site is threatened by global warming.

Canadian researchers from the University of Laval, Quebec, have discovered “giant viruses” in the Epishelf Lake (“Epishelf” in English) of Milne Fiord, located about 800 km from the North Pole.

This lake has the particularity of floating above the Arctic Ocean, therefore salt water – denser -, as reported by Slate.

For the moment, the ice maintains the balance by preventing the wind or the waves from mixing the different waters.

The samples and the sequencing of the DNA found in the lake have enabled scientists to identify the viruses and micro-organisms contained in the water.

A site threatened by global warming

In an article published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology on August 25, the scientists reported elements of their research. In particular, they discovered a greater variety of viruses in fresh water.

The “giant viruses” come from the Megaviricetes family, and are larger than some bacteria.

The team said these ‘giant’ viruses infect microscopic algae at the boundary with salt water. However, it did not provide any details on the effects of this phenomenon.

The group continues to conduct research on the atypical site but time is running out. Indeed, rising temperatures could melt the ice that protects the lake’s unique environment.

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