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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Microbes Scared to Death by Virus Presence

The microbes could surrender to the harmless virus, but instead freeze in place, dormant, waiting for their potential predator to go away, according to a recent study in mBio.

University of Illinois researchers found that Sulfolobus islandicus can go dormant, ceasing to grow and reproduce, in order to protect themselves from infection by Sulfolobus spindle-shaped virus 9 (SSV9). The dormant microbes are able to recover if the virus goes away within 24 to 48 hours—otherwise they die.

New research seeks beneficial qualities of viruses

What won’t kill you, might make you stronger

New research seeks to find out if viruses can be friends as well as foes

Viruses are responsible for much more than sore throats and stuffy noses. Researchers now believe that some viruses may protect hosts from competitors and help them survive. Despite the fact that viruses are practically everywhere and affect every living thing, scientists know very little about their positive impact on their hosts.

Team discovers microbes speciating

Not that long ago in a hot spring in Kamchatka, Russia, two groups of genetically indistinguishable microbes parted ways. They began evolving into different species – despite the fact that they still encountered one another in their acidic, boiling habitat and even exchanged some genes from time to time, researchers report. This is the first example of what the researchers call sympatric speciation in a microorganism.

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