Viruses buoy life at hydrothermal vents

Viruses buoy life at hydrothermal vents

Using hijacked genes, the infectious agents help bacteria generate energy

By Beth Mole, 13:56 PM May 1, 2014

In the deep, dark ocean, viruses have won safe harbor through thievery.

With stolen genes that make sulfur-digesting enzymes, viruses provide metabolic backup to bacteria feasting on the sulfur plumes of hydrothermal vents, researchers propose May 1 in Science. In return, the viruses secure a host in the harsh depths of the sea.

Though the oceans are rife with bacteria-infecting viruses, called bacteriophage, researchers know little about the ones that invade sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. These ba...

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