Virus ecology

Viruses Nothing wildly new here, but rather a nice overview of viruses from an ecological rather than a disease perspective.

What Ecologists Can Tell Virologists. Annual Review of Microbiology, first posted online on May 16, 2014. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091313-103436

I pictured myself as a virus…and tried to sense what it would be like. — Jonas Salk

Ecology as a science evolved from natural history, the observational study of the interactions of plants and animals with each other and their environments. As natural history matured, it became increasingly quantitative, experimental, and taxonomically broad. Focus diversified beyond the Eukarya to include the hidden world of microbial life. Microbes, particularly viruses, were shown to exist in unfathomable numbers, affecting every living organism. Slowly viruses came to be viewed in an ecological context rather than as abstract, disease-causing agents. This shift is exemplified by an increasing tendency to refer to viruses as living organisms instead of inert particles. In recent years, researchers have recognized the critical contributions of viruses to fundamental ecological processes such as biogeochemical cycling, competition, community structuring, and horizontal gene transfer. This review describes virus ecology from a virus’s perspective. If we are, like Jonas Salk, to imagine ourselves as a virus, what kind of world would we experience?



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One Response to Virus ecology

  1. Ron Huber says:

    Very fascinating. Reminds one of the importance of our little planetary partners. They’ve been around the climate change block quite a few times more than us. We might learn something from paying more attention to the virosphere (for want of a better term) and its benign and even keystone species, rather than the pathogenic few that every ecological kingdom also possesses.

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