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Defines what viruses are and how they are different from living organisms.

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Marine Viruses
Teacher Contributed

Marine Viruses

Marine viruses are abundant in the worlds oceans, but their hosts may not be the hosts you think.


Marine Viruses

Student Exploration

The Ocean Gets The Flu?

The importance of microbes in our world is becoming increasingly recognized. Where before they were viewed as merely agents of disease, researchers are increasingly showing that our world would not be our world without the incredible diversity of microbes. A great deal of this appreciation came from advances in molecular biology which made identification of all these animals feasible. No longer do researchers have to figure out how to grow microbes to see what they are, now they can just look for their DNA, and when they look, they find more microbes in more places than many imagined. One of the places people are looking is the oceans, and one of the unexpected outcomes of their work is a recognition of the value of crossdisciplinary research. Watch the video below to find out more about viruses in the marine environment, and how the study of them is affecting other disciplines.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the most common host of marine viruses?
  2. How do marine viruses effect microbial diversity in the oceans?
  3. Draw a food web showing how overfishing changes coral reef ecosystems. What role do microbes play in this change?
  4. How have studies of corals led to progress in treating Cystic Fibrosis? What is the connection? How have microbial marine ecologists aided the medical community?

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