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Nature. 1989 Aug 10;340(6233):467-8.

High abundance of viruses found in aquatic environments.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Plant Physiology, University of Bergen, Norway.


The concentration of bacteriophages in natural unpolluted waters is in general believed to be low, and they have therefore been considered ecologically unimportant. Using a new method for quantitative enumeration, we have found up to 2.5 x 10(8) virus particles per millilitre in natural waters. These concentrations indicate that virus infection may be an important factor in the ecological control of planktonic micro-organisms, and that viruses might mediate genetic exchange among bacteria in natural aquatic environments.

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