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Giant viruses are found for the first time in Greenland ice, says research

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark have found giant viruses in the Greenland ice sheet for the first time. The nucleocytoplasmic DNA cluster organism (NCLDV) may be linked to Arctic ice melt studies.

This type of virus is present globally and infects algae in the marine and freshwater environment. But, “there is very limited information on the diversity and ecosystem function of NCLDVs in frozen terrestrial habitats,” the study noted.

These viruses found in the ice layer measure approximately 2.5 micrometers, whereas common viruses can reach up to 200 nanometers — for comparison, 1 nanometer is equivalent to 0.001 micrometers.

The research surveyed the number of NCLDV genes present in biomes, highlighting their abundance in the Arctic. The samples were collected in layers of green and red snow — colors caused by algae growth —, in “dust” sediments on the surface of glaciers and in small pieces of ice.

The viruses would bind to the algae that cause this pigmentation in the snow and that are found in the dark ice, controlling the environment and causing the melting of glaciers to accelerate.

*Under the supervision of Ligia Tuon

Source: CNN Brasil

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