The Earth's oceans are teeming with life. Despite our obsession with the terrestrial environment we inhabit, it is the oceans that first gave rise to life 2.9 billion years ago, and, with an extra billion years or so of evolution behind them, it is the oceans that harbour the greatest genetic and metabolic diversity on the planet. Yet we know surprisingly little about the biochemistry of our oceans. Microbial life forms covering the three cellular kingdoms (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya) represent by far the largest fraction of the total biomass existent in the oceans. However, a poorly studied and, until recently, largely ignored other kingdom also exists: the viral kingdom. Entirely dependent on the three cellular kingdoms of life, the viral kingdom rules above with an iron fist, ruthlessly and mercilessly destroying their hosts in order to replicate and produce their own progeny.

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