What is ‘virovore’: An organism that eats viruses discovered | World News - Hindustan Times
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What is ‘virovore’: An organism that eats viruses discovered

Jan 03, 2023 05:46 PM IST

Virovore Breakthrough: This marks a first as the team through its experiments has shown that a virus-only diet, termed "virovory" is enough.

The first known “virovore”- an organism that eats viruses- has been found, researchers claimed. The breakthrough has been made by John DeLong and his team. John DeLong is a microbiologist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the United States, according to science magazine Newatlas.

Virovore Breakthrough: Researcher John DeLong made the finding while he researching on whether any microbes actively eat viruses. (Representational)
Virovore Breakthrough: Researcher John DeLong made the finding while he researching on whether any microbes actively eat viruses. (Representational)

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Researcher John DeLong made the finding while he researching on whether any microbes actively eat viruses. The researcher was also finding out whether such a diet could support physiological growth of individuals and the population growth of a community.

Scientists found that a species of Halteria - who are microscopic ciliates that populate freshwater throughout the world - can eat huge numbers of infectious chloroviruses. Both share an aquatic habitat, according to a study.

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“They're made up of really good stuff: nucleic acids, a lot of nitrogen, and phosphorous. Everything should want to eat them. So many things will eat anything they can get a hold of. Surely something would have learned how to eat these really good raw materials,” John DeLong said.

This marks a first as the team through its experiments has shown that a virus-only diet, termed "virovory" is enough to fuel the physiological growth and even the population growth of an organism.

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"If you multiply a crude estimate of how many viruses there are, how many ciliates there are and how much water there is, it comes out to this massive amount of energy movement (up the food chain)," John DeLong said. He also estimated that ciliates in a small pond might eat 10 trillion viruses a day.

“If this is happening at the scale that we think it could be, it should completely change our view on global carbon cycling,” the researcher said.

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