Algae Virus Found in Humans
There are more microorganisms in and on a “person” than there are “human cells.” Along with a few pounds of bacteria — trillions of microbes — an even larger number of viruses live in and on the human body. Some of which change the way we think and feel, and even the way we interact with others.
A group of scientists from Johns Hopkins and the University of Nebraska have discovered a new virus that is living in the mouths and throats of people participating in a study. While in itself not so noteworthy, but the fact that it was thought that it could only affect algae makes it interesting.
While conducting a separate experiment, the scientists found the virus living in 40% of a small number of people tested. The virus, called ATCV-1, is a chlorovirus, a family of viruses that infect plants. This virus affects algae in lakes all over the world. As far as researchers knew before this, viruses like this very rarely cross from one kingdom like plants to another, like animals. And even when they do, it’s more likely that they would go from plants to some type of invertebrate, not all the way to a complex animal like a human.
The original study included cognitive tests; the scientists compared the data and saw that people with the virus living in their throats processed visual information about 10% slower than people without the virus. To further test the virus, mice were injected with ATCV-1 and took 10% longer to navigate a maze and spent 20% less time exploring new environments. The infected mice also showed more than 1,000 gene changes in the parts of the brain that are usually considered essential for memory and learning.
Interesting note: the group of people tested was from Baltimore.