- Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have reported a new tailless virus prevalent in the world’s oceans. These viruses remained undiscovered till now as they cannot be detected using standard tests. The new find was made possible by novel genomic studies, and scientists say these viruses could be the missing link in the evolution of viruses.
- The virus has been named after a character in Greek mythology, Autolykos, who was a trickster and difficult to catch.
- These viruses mainly feed on bacteria, and could be helping in regulating the bacterial populations of the ocean.
- They have a shorter genome compared to the tailed viruses. The researchers found that these tailless viruses can infect many different species of bacteria.
- The researchers also think that these new viruses may be widespread on earth and can even be present in the human body.
- The findings are also of practical importance because the tailless viruses appear to play a major ecological role in the ocean, being responsible for a substantial fraction of bacteria-killing.