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Viruses: The New Frontier in Earth Sciences

Thu 24 June, 2021 8:30 pm - 10:00 pm BST

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Viruses are everywhere – in all environments, within all animals and plants, and in humans of course, in huge numbers too. We have all learnt much about viruses in the last year but what about their wider significance in the environment and in the geological record, too? Indeed, is there evidence for fossil viruses since they are so small you can only see them with an electron microscope?

This talk explores the preservation of viruses; how they are being fossilized in modern microbial mats and hot springs and how they can be found in rocks formed in these settings. But what about the roles of viruses in natural environments through time? They are fundamental to nutrient generation in the oceans, instrumental in mineral precipitation and likely involved in extinction events. Some say that without viruses there would be no life. Viruses are completely neglected in the Earth Sciences: viruses are the new frontier.

Professor Maurice Tucker, University of Bristol

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