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Trends Microbiol. 2005 Jun;13(6):278-84.

Here a virus, there a virus, everywhere the same virus?

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Biology Department, LS301, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA 92182 USA.


There are an estimated 10(31) viruses on Earth, most of which are phages that infect bacteria. Metagenomic analyses have shown that environmental viral communities are incredibly diverse. There are an estimated 5000 viral genotypes in 200 liters of seawater and possibly a million different viral genotypes in one kilogram of marine sediment. By contrast, some culturing and molecular studies have found that viruses move between different biomes. Together, these findings suggest that viral diversity could be high on a local scale but relatively limited globally. Also, by moving between environments, viruses can facilitate horizontal gene transfer.

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