Episode Summary

Another climate-related story: Cyanobacteria infected by viruses continue taking up nutrients from their environment, using it to make more viruses than would otherwise be possible!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Microcystis virus Ma-LMM01

News discussed

Jesse's takeaways

Though global warming is a global problem, accurate models for predicting where things are headed need to incorporate the activity of even the smallest organisms, if they're numerous enough. Photosynthesis and other activities of microbes in the oceans are a big sink for carbon, but cycles of other nutrients and also viruses can affect the carbon cycle.

In this study, phages infecting photosynthetic ocean bacteria were able to continue their host's uptake of nitrogen from the environment even after mostly shutting down the host's own protein production and growth. This has implications for how viruses affect carbon cycling by cyanobacteria and how quickly populations of these bacteria may grow or die off.

Journal Paper

Waldbauer JR, Coleman ML, Rizzo AI, Campbell KL, Lotus J, Zhang L. 2019. Nitrogen sourcing during viral infection of marine cyanobacteria. Proc Natl Acad Sci 116:15590–15595.

Other interesting stories

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