An international team of scientists has identified 5500 new species of viruses from oceans around the world, in a major discovery that will change our perception of the oceans.
Scientists from Tara Oceans Expeditions, a global research project, discovered the presence of 5,500 new types of viruses, the genetic material of which consists of RNA, after analysing over 35,000 samples of ocean water from around the world. To classify these new viruses, a new taxonomy is also required. These new RNA viruses have been classified into five new families: Taraviricota, Pomiviricota, Paraxenoviricota, Wamoviricota, and Arctiviricota.
While not all RNA viruses infect humans, they are the most common cause of disease in our species. COVID-19 and the common cold, for example, are both RNA viruses. They also have the ability to infect plants and animals and in some cases, they can be passed on to humans.
No, you should not be. The discovery of these new viruses will lead to a better understanding of ocean ecosystems. Scientists believe these RNA viruses work as a regulator of the oceanic ecosystem. According to France inter “If an organism turns out to be too abundant, the marine viruses would attack it to prevent it from dominating. They would infect micro-organisms and flora and fauna but would pose no risk to humans. For the time being, their influence on infection is being studied, as well as their determining role in the imprisonment of carbon in the oceans.”
The discovery also throws light on the evolution of RNA viruses, “the new phyla ‘Taraviricota,’ a missing link in early RNA virus evolution,” is said in the research paper published in the journal Science.