With Nothing to Eat Except Viruses, Some Microbes Thrive

Yasemin Saplakoglu in Quanta:

Viruses are notorious as scourges of cellular life, destroying as ruthlessly as any predator. Yet as microbiologists are now piecing together, these killers also sometimes perish as prey.

New research suggests that for some aquatic microorganisms, viruses can be a nutritious food source — delicious little bags chock-full of proteins, phosphorus and other yummy nutrients. Viruses “must be being eaten all the time,” said John DeLong, the lead author of the new study and an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. And if viruses are a popular enough snack for organisms across the globe, then they may have a significant impact on the cycling of energy through the food web. The study appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December.

More here.