Islamabad    -   Viruses don’t immediately kill algae but live in harmony with them. Scientists have long believed that ocean viruses always quickly kill algae, but Rutgers-led research shows they live in harmony with algae and viruses provide a “coup de grace” only when blooms of algae are already stressed and dying. 

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will likely change how scientists view viral infections of algae, also known as phytoplankton — especially the impact of viruses on ecosystem processes like algal bloom formation (and decline) and the cycling of carbon and other chemicals on Earth. “It’s only when the infected algal cells become stressed, such as when they run out of nutrients, that the viruses turn deadly,” said lead author Benjamin Knowles, a former post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Marine.

 and Coastal Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick who is now at UCLA. Biogeochemical cycling refers to essential nutrients like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, iron and water circulating through organisms and the environment.