Soil Warming Experiment: Experts Find Rare Giant Viruses Hidden In A US Forest’s Soils


Massachusetts hosts the world’s longest running soil-warming experiment which is measuring how hotter temperatures can impact the tiny life-forms that are living in the dirt. Considering the way in which the climate change is going these days, the future doesn’t look too good as it may be hidden in the heated dirt.

Anyway, this is not all that might be hidden in dirt, apparently according to the latest reports.

The outdoor lab hides something big

This oversized outdoor lab that we mentioned before is the home of a discovery that has just been made by experts. They found 16 rare giant viruses that are totally new to science.

“We were not looking for giant viruses,” says biologist Jeff Blanchard from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass).

“Our goal was to isolate bacteria directly from the environment to understand how microbial communities are changing in response to soil warming.”

A while ago, it was believed that viruses are tiny things, much much smaller than bacteria.

But in more recent times, the discovery of giant viruses has been challenging the scientific concepts that were known, and researchers have been finding some unknown viral strains that are able to inhibit larger physical forms, and they are have also much larger genomes as well.

The first time that giant viruses are found in a terrestrial ecosystem 

Such giant viruses have only been discovered during this century and in aquatic habitats. This is the main reason for which this latest discovery is so huge,

This is the very first time when giant viruses have been discovered in a terrestrial ecosystem.

“The metagenomic data generated here from a single sampling site contained far more new giant virus genomes than any other data set I have seen to date,” says bioinformaticist Frederik Schulz.

He continued and explained that “We recovered 16 distinct giant virus genomes in this study, but we are merely scratching the surface.”

The findings have been published in Nature Communications.

Rada attended the courses in the Faculty of Letters, Romanian-English section, and finished the Faculty of Theatre and Television, Theatrical Journalism section, both within the framework of Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. Up till now, she reviewed books, movies, and theatre-plays, enjoying subjects from the cultural niche. Her experience in writing also intersects the IT niche, given the fact that she worked as a content editor for firms that produce software for mobile devices. She is collaborating with online advertising agencies, writing articles for several websites and blogs.


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