Microorganisms can live inside our bodies for millions of years and their life cycles are still under study.
And now, researchers at the University of Bristol and Imperial College London have revealed that they have discovered a novel way to harness their power.
They discovered that the activity of these viruses, which have a specific activity, can be harnessed by the bacteria and other organisms.
The new study, published in the journal Nature, looks at how bacteria and fungi use viruses as a way to live inside their bodies.
The study found that bacteria and their symbionts can transform viruses into an energy source and make them behave like biological energy.
In this way, the microbes can store energy from viral activity, and release that energy into the environment to power their bodies by regulating the amount of energy they get from sunlight, as well as their own body processes, the researchers say.
They also found that the viruses can be used to store energy and to regulate the amount they get back from the environment, which in turn can then be used for other biological processes.
“This is the first study of its kind that demonstrates the role that viruses play in the energy storage and release processes of microbes and fungi,” said Dr Michael Smedley, one of the lead authors of the study.
“These microbes and other species are the ones that are in charge of converting the viral activity into energy.
And the microbes are able to use that energy to fuel their own bodies and to make energy for themselves.”
The researchers say that they were inspired by bacteria and the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
They started investigating viruses a decade ago, and realised that the virions have a unique capacity to transform viruses, known as “saturation”.
This process is similar to how water molecules in our body convert sugar into energy, and the scientists discovered that they can also use this process to convert energy into chemicals, which are then released into the atmosphere.
“We found that viruses were able to capture and release this energy and convert it into a useful chemical,” said co-author Dr Jules Tannock, from the University’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
The researchers found that they could make the virus-based chemical in the bacteria using the activity that the bacteria generates by transforming viral activity.
And this conversion is able to be turned into anaerobic bacteria-based chemicals, in which sugars are converted to CO2, which is then used to make ATP, the chemical energy that is produced when you run an electric generator.
The results suggest that viruses can act as a form of energy storage, where they can be turned by bacteria into an “aerobic bioenergy source”, or a “carbon-based bioenergy reservoir”, which could help the microbes store and release energy in the environment.
The research has implications for the future of bioenergy.
“We are looking at new ways of harnessing energy from viruses in order to fuel our bodies, as the bacteria could store energy in their cell walls,” said Tannocks.
“The bacteria could use the energy from the conversion of the virus to create ATP for themselves, and if the conversion is sustained they could produce other compounds that could also be useful for our bodies.”###