Monday, November 10, 2008

Extreme 2008 and Extreme Viruses

A research expedition aboard the famed R/V Atlantis (carrying the equally well known submersible DSV Alvin) has just set sail from Manzanillo, Mexico. Its 21-day mission is to explore hydrothermal vents in the Pacific and Sea of Cortes. That's what the "Extreme" part is -- they aren't going to bungee jump or anything. 

I actually know (although not well) the two PIs who are leading the expedition -- I met Craig Cary in Australia at ISME last summer and I met Eric Wommack in Boston at ASM last spring. However, my principal interest in the expedition is that two of my JCVI co-workers, Lisa Zeigler and Doug Fadrosh, are aboard in order to collect viruses in the vent community. Viral ecology is a growing field -- viruses play a role in microbial ecology both as predators and as means of transferring genes from host to host.

The expedition has a lovely official site, and Lisa has started a blog that all of you should go visit -- blogging/journalling has a long and noble tradition in marine biology expeditions, going back at least as far as Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle".

1 comment:

Peter Mc said...

I was recently renewing my acquiaintance with parasites though Carl Zimmer's book and was amazed at the role viruses are thought to play in marine ecology, infecting and destroying a huge percentage of the unicellullar organism in the water column.