Recently, a microbiologist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the United States found the first known organism that eats viruses.

 

What are ‘virovores’?

  • The organisms which eat viruses are called virovore.
  • It has been identified as an actual species of protist that feasts on viruses.
  • These virus-eating species of protists which are their kingdom on the tree of life and are not an animal, plants, or fungi are now classified as Virovores.
  • It is a species of Halteria; microscopic ciliates that populate freshwater worldwide.
  • The microbe Halteria is a common genus of protists known to flit about as its hair-like cilia propel it through the water.
  • They are made up of nucleic acids, nitrogen, and phosphorus. It can eat huge numbers of infectious chloroviruses that share their aquatic habitat.
  • These organisms can sustain themselves with viruses, consuming many and growing in size.
  • The new findings may change our understanding of the role viruses play in the food chain at a microscopic level.