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High abundance of viruses found in aquatic environments


THE concentration of bacteriophages in natural unpolluted waters is in general believed to be low1,2, and they have therefore been considered ecologically unimportant3. Using a new method for quantitative enumeration, we have found up to 2.5 x IO8 virus particles per millilitre in natural waters. These concentrations indicate that virus infection may be an important factor in the ecological control of planktonic micro-organisms, and that viruses might mediate genetic exchange among bacteria in natural aquatic environments.

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Bergh, Ø., BØrsheim, K., Bratbak, G. et al. High abundance of viruses found in aquatic environments. Nature 340, 467–468 (1989).

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