The Loh Down On Science

These newly discovered viruses' influence on Earth's future will suprise you

Instead of war of the worlds, could our planet’s future be . . . war of the bacterium?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Meet SAR-eleven, a microscopic bacterium with a serious attitude. SAR-eleven is so abundant in our oceans, it had been thought to have no natural predators. This is good because SAR-eleven is a natural recycler. It converts carbon into food for algae. And algae are the greatest producers of oxygen on the planet.

But now enter Pelagiphages, a group of newly discovered viruses with an insatiable thirst for SAR-eleven.  It turns out, every second, millions of SAR-elevens are being wiped out by this heretofore-unnoticed virus.

If SAR-eleven falls to these viral Napoleons, it could have a devastating effect on our environment. 

That said, the research shows that this feud has been raging on for hundreds of millions of years, and it hasn’t been settled yet.

So forget about it! And enjoy that nice fresh air. While you still can.

 

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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