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Scientists recently discovered a new virus in the deepest part of the Earth’s oceans, Euronews reported.
The pathogen was located in sediment taken more than 29,000 feet underwater in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench – considered the planet’s deepest location, researchers wrote.
The Mariana Trench’s lowest point is more than 36,000 feet down.
Dubbed vB_HmeY_H4907, scientists said the virus is a bacteriophage, known to infect and replicate inside bacteria. They added that it belongs to a new viral family called Surviridae.
This bacteriophage specifically targets Halomonas bacteria which are ubiquitous in the Mariana Trench, Antarctica, and around hydrothermal vents – fissures on the sea floor through which heated water is released.
The team noted that the discovery is important in revealing the enormous diversity and ecological significance of viruses living in the ocean’s hadal zone, which is at a depth of between 20,000 and 36,000 feet.
Currently, only two strains of hadal viruses have been isolated.
The hadal zone houses various distinctive organisms capable of adjusting to its harsh environment that is characterized by low temperatures, high pressure, and darkness in the deep sea.
Marine researchers are currently on the hunt for additional novel viruses in similarly extreme settings.
“Extreme environments offer optimal prospects for unearthing novel viruses,” said co-author Min Wang.