Innocence by Viral Tagging

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Ann Gregory and J. Cesar Ignacio Espinoza

University of Arizona


Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on the planet with approximately 1030 in the world’s oceans at any time. As such, they play a central role in global nutrient cycling. Despite their ecological importance, little is known about how viruses interact with their hosts due to the difficulty in culturing many different types of bacteria and viruses. In this video abstract based on our 2012 mBio “Contrasting Life Strategies of Viruses that Infect Photo- and Heterotrophic Bacteria, as Revealed by Viral Tagging,” we introduce a new method called viral tagging that allows scientists to examine these interactions between natural unculturable viruses and a single bacterial host.


Deng L, Gregory A, Yilmaz S, Poulos BT, Hugenholtz P, and Sullivan MB. 2012. Contrasting life strategies of viruses that infect photo- and heterotrophic bacteria, as revealed by viral tagging. mBio 3(6):e00373-12. doi:10.1128/mBio.00373-12.

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By the Numbers

Over 40,000 students in 50 US states, the US Virgin Islands, and 25 countries participated as judges in the 2016 Ocean 180 Video Challenge.