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These giant viruses have weaponised CRISPR against their rivals and bacterial hosts

These giant viruses have weaponised CRISPR against their rivals and bacterial hosts

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Hundreds of huge, bacteria-killing viruses have been newly discovered lurking in all kinds of environments, including our guts. Their massive genomes code for many proteins not found in smaller viruses, including CRISPR systems used to attack both their bacterial hosts and rival viruses. The massive viruses have long gone unnoticed because the standard methods used to look for bacteria-killing viruses, or bacteriophages, literally filter them out. Instead, a team has found them by looking at all the DNA present in a variety of samples, an approach known as metagenomics. The researchers then pieced together the genomes of the huge phages using a method developed by team leader Jill Banfield at the University of California, Berkeley. Bacteriophages are the most common entities on Earth. There can be many millions in a drop of seawater. Almost all known phages have genomes tens of thousands of DNA letters long at most. Larger ones were thought to be very rare. But earlier this year,…
Source: These giant viruses have weaponised CRISPR against their rivals and bacterial hosts

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