The lair of the “beast” in Lassen Volcanic National Park
It’s not often that a scientist will say “mythological beast” with a straight face, but that’s exactly what virologist Ken Stedman told Nature News about a new virus. In a recent paper in Biology Direct, Stedman and his research team describe a genetic sequence that suggests the existence of a DNA-RNA chimera virus.
RNA and DNA viruses, referring to the type of nucleic acid they use to store genetic information, are two very distinct groups—probably more evolutionary distant than a lion and a snake. That’s why researchers were so surprised when they found a DNA virus sequence encoding a protein only ever found in RNA viruses. The sample came from a Lassen Volcanic National Park hotspring, where viruses prey on the bacteria living in the acidic water.
There’s a lot going on in Arctic permafrost as it melts and soil bacteria become more active. A new study explores how these bacteria may help or hinder our efforts to control the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
What’s the News: Melting permafrost in a warming world could mean lots of greenhouses gasses, especially methane, released into the atmosphere. But it also means an unusual community of soil bacteria coming out of hibernation, so to speak. A new study looks at what those permafrost microbes do, exactly, as their environment warms up.