Microorganisms are the most basic and simplest building blocks of life, but they are also the most important because they control how the entire planet is shaped.
In other words, they make the planets we live on, and the microorganisms that live on them, behave like living cells.
Now, a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley has found that these microorganisms also control how viruses and bacteria interact with our bodies.
This discovery, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help scientists understand how viruses, bacteria, and fungi are able to thrive in the world’s oceans and lakes, and how they could be a major threat to humanity.
“These are not just microbes,” said lead author Daniela A. Kasten, a professor of biological sciences at UC Berkeley.
“This is the first time we’ve shown that viruses, such as coronavirus, also can control the microorganisms of other organisms.”
The research team studied viruses, which are a family of proteins that can infect a host’s cells.
While viruses have the ability to infect other types of cells, they can only infect those that are capable of carrying out the necessary steps to replicate themselves, known as replication machinery.
For example, coronaviruses, like most viruses, cause mutations in genes that control the DNA that gives rise to proteins that allow it to infect new cells.
By studying these mutations in viruses and in bacteria, Kastan and her colleagues were able to identify what the difference is between viruses and the other organisms that can be considered microbes.
By comparing these bacteria and viruses, they found that viruses and their replication machinery control the way their genomes replicate themselves.
This means that viruses are able, unlike bacteria, to replicate into different types of microorganisms and thus control how they interact with one another.
This process, called RNA interference, allows viruses to replicate in different ways, and it also means that the microbe can respond differently to viruses, and thus its ability to reproduce, when infected with the virus.
“It is a big step forward to understand how RNA interference affects the genomes of different types and organisms, and we are going to use this knowledge to understand the evolution of viruses and how it relates to the evolution and stability of organisms,” Kastent said.
In their study, the researchers used a technique called the RISC-V method to identify the mutations in the RNA of viruses.
They then looked at the genomes and genes of viruses to identify those that control replication machinery, and then they used the RNA interference technique to determine how the viruses and other microorganisms responded to viruses.
The team found that when a virus and a microorganizer were genetically similar, but differed in their ability to control replication, the virus would be able to replicate more efficiently and survive longer.
But when the virus and microorganiser differed in these genes, the viral genome was able to survive longer and produce more copies of itself.
These differences, they say, lead to differences in the virus’s ability to replicate and evolve, and in this way they can be used to predict how viruses will evolve in the future.
The researchers also found that this effect was most pronounced in coronaviral viruses.
These viruses, like coronavire, cause mutation in the viral replication machinery and can also replicate into microorganisms.
They were able, in some cases, to survive the virus, and they are now on the lookout for similar mutations that could make them more resistant to coronavviruses.
“We think that viruses will have a much larger impact on the way the world looks like, and that will be a very interesting problem to solve,” Kastsen said.
This study adds to the emerging understanding of how viruses work.
In addition to the Riscv-V technique, Kastsent and her team also looked at DNA from other viruses and found that the DNA was more similar to that of coronavires than the RNA that they use to replicate.
This suggests that these viruses are capable, like the coronaviris, of changing their DNA to make them less resistant to new coronaviriases.
“In some ways, this is similar to the way viruses interact with bacteria,” said Kastin.
“You could think of it as a virus in its own right.”