The disappearance of viruses is the end of life on Earth

June 20, 2020
Viruses contribute to the continuation of life on the planet Earth. Viruses contribute to the continuation of life on the planet Earth. Photo source: - Compilation of news visibility from Google

Egyptian News Vision - On the BBC: Most people know nothing about the role that viruses play in supporting life on Earth.

Because we always focus on viruses that cause diseases in humans.

But some researchers recently began studying viruses that enhance the chances of survival of humanity and the planet.

And all that scientists know so far is that without viruses, life and the planet will not exist.

"If the viruses suddenly disappeared from existence, the world would enjoy a wonderful life for about a day and a half, and then all of us would die, as viruses play important roles in the world that outweigh their damage in stages," says Tony Goldberg, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The vast majority of viruses do not cause disease in humans, many of which contribute to support ecosystems, and some maintain the health of living organisms from fungi and plants to insects and humans.

"We live in a tight environmental balance," says Susanna Lopez Chariton, a virologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and viruses are part of that balance.

Chariton believes that if the viruses disappeared, our fate would be fatal. Researchers do not yet know the number of viruses that live on the planet, although thousands of species are classified among them, there are millions of which we may not know anything about. Marilyn Rosenck, University of Pennsylvania's Virology Ecologist, attributes the focus to studying only pathogens. Scientists also do not know the percentage of pathogenic viruses in total viruses.

"All viruses, with the exception of a few, do not cause diseases in the organisms we care about," says Curtis Sattel, an environmental virologist at the University of British Columbia.

For example, devouring viruses that infect bacteria, play a very important role. Goldberg says: These viruses devour bacteria, and without them w,e would have had many problems.

The devoured cells regulate bacterial societies in the ocean, and perhaps also in all ecosystems on the planet. And if these viruses disappear, the number of bacteria in some bacterial societies may double to the point of explosion.

Vital groups may stop growing due to the dominance of others. Moreover, germs produce about half of the oxygen on the planet, with the help of viruses.

Viruses kill about 20 percent of all germs and about 50 percent of the ocean's bacteria every day, thereby ensuring that the oxygen-producing plankton has enough nutrients to produce large amounts of oxygen through photosynthesis, thereby supporting life on Earth.

"Without death, there would be no life," Satell says. "Because life depends on recycling materials, and viruses play an important role in the recycling process."

In insect pests, researchers discovered that viruses contribute to determining species numbers; If the number of individuals in one species increases excessively, the virus comes and annihilates its members.

This process is a natural part of ecosystems, and it occurs to many species, including humans, as in the case of pandemics, says Rosenick. Some organisms rely on viruses to survive or to gain a competitive advantage over other species.

Some scientists believe that viruses play an important role in helping cows and other ruminants to convert cellulose from grass to sugar, which eventually converts into their body through metabolism into milk or body mass.

And researchers believe that viruses contribute to maintaining the composition of intestinal bacteria in the bodies of humans and animals.


* Virus, fungi and plants:

Rosenk and her colleagues discovered evidence to support the importance of viruses to the ecosystem; They examined a fungus that lives on a specific herb in the Yellowstone National Park, USA, and noticed that a virus infects this fungus to make the grass more tolerant to soil heat.

"When the virus, the fungus, and the plant meet, the plant can grow in hot soil," says Rosenick.


* Viruses protect humans:

Infection with non-harmful viruses may ward off the risk of some human pathogens.

A study linked the hepatitis C virus to the delaying development of AIDS symptoms in people with it.

The scientists also noted that the hepatitis C virus reduces the chances of death from Ebola in people with the disease, and Satell says: The viruses have contributed to saving the lives of some patients after antibiotics failed to treat them.


* Do you treat cancer?

Scientists are looking into the possibility of using viruses to break down and kill only cancer cells, as a less toxic and more effective cancer treatment.

Goldberg says These viruses that are used in the treatment function as targeted microscopic shells targeting unwanted cells.

And we will need these viruses in a lot of research that will lead us to the next generation of treatments.

Viruses are part of a person’s DNA.

If viruses multiply in the human sexual cells, that is, the egg and the sperm, the genetic code of the virus may pass to the next generation and become part of the human DNA; Where a person acquires and uses viruses genes for his benefit, and the remnants of viruses constitute about 8 percent of human genetic material.


* Pregnancy of children is caused by old viruses:

In 2018, two research teams discovered that a viral gene plays a pivotal role in forming long-term memories by transferring information between cells and some of them in the nervous system.

Another study also linked the ability of humans to have live children with the genetic code of ancient viruses that infected our ancestors 130 million years ago.

At the end of the study, the researchers assumed that were it not for the existence of this series of viruses that infect our ancestors anciently, The human pregnancy would be completely different, if not impossible.

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