Scientists discover viruses that secretly rule the world’s oceans

Thousands of mysterious viruses that were recently discovered lurking in the world’s oceans may exert huge influence over the ecosystems, in part by “reprogramming” the hosts they infect, scientists reported.

The new research, published Thursday (June 9) in the journal Science (opens in new tab)focuses on viruses that contain RNA, a molecular cousin of DNA. Examples of RNA viruses abound in human disease; for instance, coronaviruses and influenza viruses are both RNA-based. However, when it comes to the RNA viruses in the ocean, scientists are only just learning about the variety that can be found and the range of hosts they can infect.