New Virus Found at a Depth of 8,900 Meters in Earth’s Deepest Ocean Trench

Scientists Discover Deepest Ocean Virus in the Mariana Trench

Researchers have identified a novel virus in the Mariana Trench, potentially the deepest bacteriophage in Earth’s oceans. This new virus was uncovered in sediment collected at a staggering depth of 8,900 meters in the Mariana Trench, the world’s deepest location, which reaches a nadir of 11,000 meters near the Mariana Islands.

Marine virologist Min Wang noted, “To our best knowledge, this is the deepest known isolated phage in the global ocean.”

The virus, designated vB_HmeY_H4907, is a bacteriophage, meaning it infects and reproduces within bacteria. It specifically targets Halomonas bacteria, which are abundant in the Mariana Trench, as well as in Antarctica and hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where hot water is discharged.

Genomic analysis suggests the virus shares similarities with its bacterial host and is prevalent in the ocean. Researchers classify this new bacteriophage under the viral family Surviridae.

This virus was found in the hadal zone, which extends from depths of 6,000 to 11,000 meters and is named after Hades, the Greek god of the underworld.

“Recent research has revealed the enormous diversity, novelty, and ecological significance of hadal viruses. However, only two strains of hadal viruses have been isolated,” the researchers noted in their study.

The discovery of this new bacteriophage enhances our understanding of the behavior of viruses in the challenging environments of the deep ocean, including their co-evolution with bacterial hosts.

The hadal zone is home to various unique organisms adapted to extreme conditions such as low temperatures, high pressure, and complete darkness in the deep sea.

Marine virologists are now eager to search for more novel viruses in extreme locations. Wang said, “Extreme environments offer optimal prospects for unearthing novel viruses.”

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