Water droplets falling from the sky are common. Ice cubes falling from the sky are a rare sight. But, now viruses and bacteria are falling from the sky. This is no Robin Cook novel, but a reality! Viruses are the most (10 to 100 times more) abundant cellular organisms existing on our planet and it would be of no surprise if we could detect their presence in other planets as well.
A new research has found that a breathtaking number of bacteria and viruses are falling from the Earth’s atmosphere. These viruses are being swept up from the Earth’s surface into the troposphere (the layer beyond the Earth’s weather systems but below the layer where jets fly). These viruses can be carried thousands of kilometers before they are deposited back into the Earth’s surface.
Every day, more than 800 million viruses are deposited per square meter above the planetary boundary layer. In simple words, it’s like telling that every person in Delhi has nearly 50 viruses falling over him/her. Such genetically identical viruses were perceived by researches around the globe in very different environments. This explains the reason behind the same disease caused due to a virus existing at the same time in different continents-the virus is swept up into the atmosphere on one continent and deposited in some other continent. They are swept up from soil dust and sea sprays. These particles are subjected to long-range transport unlike particles lower below in the atmosphere.
Viruses are comparatively prominently present than bacteria. The deposit rates for viruses are nine to 461 times greater than the rates for bacteria. If billions of viruses are deposited per square meter per day, only millions of bacteria are deposited. Rain and dust intrusions deposit these viruses and bacteria back to the Earth’s surface. Rain seems to be less effective in this process, however.
Researchers could also note that the majority of the viruses carried some identity that they have been swept up into the air from sea spray. Viruses also have the tendency to stay high up in the atmosphere for longer time periods. There is even the possibility of these biological entities existing in space, on which there is almost zero research done until now. Also, even when we get rid of a virus’s gene, it has the property to still infect. If research can figure out the reason behind the stability of these viruses, we can get a clearer insight into diseases such as AIDS and even Alzheimer’s. Read more on Alzheimer's and AIDS at www.firsteatright.com.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.