Microbiology

A viral blight on ocean sunshine sugars

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Science  08 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6295, pp. 134-135
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6295.134-a

Viruses can affect the metabolism of cyanobacteria.

PHOTO: STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE SOURCE

Essentially all organic material derives from photosynthesis. The most numerous photosynthetic organisms are marine picocyanobacteria, which synthesize about 10% of Earth's organic compounds. Even more numerous marine viruses prey on picocyanobacteria. Putty et al. show that the infecting viruses subvert the metabolism of their picocyanobacteria hosts, boosting the energy-producing reactions of photosynthesis to support viral infection. At the same time, they inhibit the ability of picocyanobacteria to fix CO2 and synthesize organic material, therefore having a potentially substantial effect on global amounts of organic compounds.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.036 (2016).

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