The “Regulator” Function of Viruses on Ecosystem Carbon Cycling in the Anthropocene

Yang Gao*, Yao Lu, Jennifer A.J. Dungait, Jianbao Liu, Shunhe Lin, Junjie Jia, Guirui Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Viruses act as “regulators” of the global carbon cycle because they impact the material cycles and energy flows of food webs and the microbial loop. The average contribution of viruses to the Earth ecosystem carbon cycle is 8.6‰, of which its contribution to marine ecosystems (1.4‰) is less than its contribution to terrestrial (6.7‰) and freshwater (17.8‰) ecosystems. Over the past 2,000 years, anthropogenic activities and climate change have gradually altered the regulatory role of viruses in ecosystem carbon cycling processes. This has been particularly conspicuous over the past 200 years due to rapid industrialization and attendant population growth. The progressive acceleration of the spread and reproduction of viruses may subsequently accelerate the global C cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number858615
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Early online date29 Mar 2022
Publication statusFirst published - 29 Mar 2022


  • anthropogenic activity
  • carbon cycle
  • climate change
  • regulator
  • virus


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