What’s in a name? The confusing world of virus taxonomy

As in other microbes with extensive genetic diversity, the concept of a “species” of virus is problematic. The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) provides a formal definition of a viral species as a monophyletic group whose properties can be distinguished from those of other species by multiple criteria. Surprisingly, viral nomenclature does not … Continue reading What’s in a name? The confusing world of virus taxonomy

Symbionts and the survival of corals

New research reports raise hopes that assisted evolution of coral holobionts may help protect them from bleaching due to global warming. Many corals depend on photosynthetic symbionts. It’s been known for almost 140 years that many corals harbour symbiotic microbes known colloquially as zooxanthellae within their tissues. Although corals possess tentacles and stinging cells that … Continue reading Symbionts and the survival of corals

A shifting paradigm – Archaea aren’t the only organisms that produce methane

Most methane is produced by anaerobic Archaea. The formation and fate of methane has been the study of intensive research over several decades, because of its great importance in aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric processes. Methane has a global warming potential ~28 times that of CO2 over 100 years. Until recently, methanogenesis was thought to be … Continue reading A shifting paradigm – Archaea aren’t the only organisms that produce methane

New insights into symbiont diversity in deep sea mussels

Exceptional diversity of chemosynthetic endosymbionts. Many deep-sea investigations have revealed the presence of dense colonies of large mussels belonging to the genus Bathymodiolus attached to rocks in the vicinity of hydrothermal vents and cold seeps. The gills of these mussels contain chemosynthetic bacterial symbionts within their cells. These endosymbionts use reduced inorganic compounds as a … Continue reading New insights into symbiont diversity in deep sea mussels

Will declining sea ice lead to the spread of marine mammal diseases?

Viruses belonging to the Morbillivirus genus (in the Paramyxoviridae family of enveloped negative-sense RNA viruses) have been recognized as significant causes of disease in cetaceans and pinnipeds for several decades. Morbillivirus species are also responsible for measles in humans, distemper in dogs and Rinderpest in cattle. In all cases, infection usually leads to either rapid … Continue reading Will declining sea ice lead to the spread of marine mammal diseases?