Some creatures are carnivores and eat animals, others are herbivores and eat plants, and some, including humans, are omnivores and will eat both. But until now, we haven’t identified an organism that eats viruses. Of course, we ingest viruses, along with bacteria and other microbes. But scientists have now observed a species that ate viruses in the absence of other nutrients and thrived! That makes them “virovores.”
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In an experiment, various pond water microbes were isolated, introduced to purified water, and fed Chlorovirus, a common virus that infects algae. The plankton genus Halteria multiplied to 15 times its population, while the Chlorovirus population was reduced. In a control sample without the virus, Halteria didn’t grow at all. That doesn’t mean that Halteria is unique. There may be many species that feed on viruses that we don’t know about yet. Read about the discovery of virovores at New Atlas. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: Don Loarie)