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Glassy coating keeps viruses happy in harsh environments

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What's a virus to do when it finds itself in an inhospitable environment such as hot water? Coating itself in glass seems to not only provide protection, but may also make it easier to jump to a more favorable location to spread.

Researchers led by a group from the Center for Life in Extreme Environments at Portland State University recently coated four different virus types in silica, a glassy substance found in certain types of hot springs. Three of the four viruses studied took on a silica coating and went into hibernation, reactivating when the coating was removed.
The NASA-funded finding has implications for seeking out viruses on other planets, including Mars – a big target for life studies over the decades. No microbes have been found on the Red Planet, but NASA is currently seeking evidence of habitable environments there, particularly with the Mars Curiosity rover.

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