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When infection is a good thing: sulfur-eating bacteria enlist viruses to help acquire energy

Life is no cake walk at the ocean floor, where carbon is scarce and light nonexistent. At least near deep ocean vents, mineral-rich water bubbles up from magma beneath the crust, providing both heat and a source of energy. In these alien environments, lithotrophs- bacteria that eat minerals instead of organic carbon- have staked out a niche by evolving some creative metabolic strategies.

But minerals are a poor source of energy compared to organic matter. Lithotrophs are slow-growing critters, easily outcompeted when carbon is abundant. They need all the help they can get. And it turns out, they might very well get help… from an unlikely source. A study published last week in Science express reports how viruses may be helping deep marine bacteria eat sulfur.

Read full article by clicking the source link above.

For regular microbial ecology tweets, follow the author @themadstone

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