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Journal Articles Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/technology Year : 2007

Viruses in extreme environments


The tolerance limits of extremophiles in term of temperature, pH, salinity, desiccation, hydrostatic pressure, radiation, anaerobiosis far exceed what can support non-extremophilic organisms. Like all other organisms, extremophiles serve as hosts for viral replication. Many lines of evidence suggest that viruses could no more be regarded as simple infectious ‘‘fragments of life'' but on the contrary as one of the major components of the biosphere. The exploration of niches with seemingly harsh life conditions as hypersaline and soda lakes, Sahara desert, polar environments or hot acid springs and deep sea hydrothermal vents, permitted to track successfully the presence of viruses. Substantial populations of double-stranded DNA virus that can reach 109 particles per milliliter were recorded. All these viral communities, with genome size ranging from 14 kb to 80 kb, seem to be genetically distinct, suggesting specific niche adaptation. Nevertheless, at this stage of the knowledge, very little is known of their origin, activity, or importance to the in situ microbial dynamics. The continuous attempts to isolate and to study viruses that thrive in extreme environments will be needed to address such questions. However, this topic appears to open a new window on an unexplored part of the viral world.
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Dates and versions

hal-00563692 , version 1 (07-02-2011)



Marc Le Romancer, Mélusine Gaillard, Claire Geslin, Daniel Prieur. Viruses in extreme environments. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/technology, 2007, 6 (1-3), pp.17-31. ⟨10.1007/s11157-006-0011-2⟩. ⟨hal-00563692⟩
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