Virosphere or Viriosphere? Help Settle the Debate

Is it a case of tomato vs tomatoe?

The scientific literature seems divided over the proper spelling of “virosphere” or is it “viriosphere?” Both versions appear in all sorts of peer-reviewed journals. Both spelling variations describe the same thing: a collective noun for all of Earth’s viruses. But, which is correct?

Wikipedia, the seventh most visited website on the Internet and the first port of call for many seeking knowledge online, has no entry for either “virosphere” or “viriosphere.” Compare this to the populated “biosphere” page, or the yet more information dense “atmosphere” page.

You can help sort it out.  If you have an opinion on the correct spelling, please let us know by emailing the DCO Engagement Team.

Better yet, contribute to Wikipedia and Settle the Semantic Debate

If you would like to settle the debate and add a page for “virosphere” or “viriosphere.”  here are three easy steps to begin:

  1. Create an account on Wikipedia:
  2. Click to enroll in the DCO Wikipedia campaign. Use "wikidco" if it asks for a password to join.
  3. Create a page for virosphere, viriosphere.

Some helpful references on this topic: 

Anderson RE, Brazelton WJ, and Baross, JA (2013) The deep viriosphere: Assessing the viral impact on microbial community dynamics in the deep subsurface. Rev. Mineral. Geochemistry 75, 649–675.
Anderson RE, Sogin ML, and Baross, JA (2014) Evolutionary strategies of viruses and cells in hydrothermal systems. PLoS One 9, e109696. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109696.
Engelhardt T, Sahlberg M, Cypionka H, and Engelen B (2011) Induction of prophages from deep-subseafloor bacteria. Environ. Microbiol. Rep. 3, 459–465. doi:10.1111/j.1758-2229.2010.00232.x.
Eydal HSC, Jägevall S, Hermansson M, and Pedersen K (2009) Bacteriophage lytic to Desulfovibrio aespoeensis isolated from deep groundwater. ISME J. 3, 1139–1147.
Kyle JE, Eydal HSC, Ferris FG, and Pedersen K (2008) Viruses in granitic groundwater from 69 to 450 m depth of the Äspö hard rock laboratory, Sweden. ISME J. 2, 571–574. doi:10.1038/ismej.2008.18.
Labonté JM, Field EK, Lau M, Chivian D, Van Heerden E, Wommack KE, Kieft TL, Onstott TC, and Stepanauskas R (2015) Single cell genomics indicates horizontal gene transfer and viral infections in a deep subsurface Firmicutes population. Front. Microbiol. 6.
Middelboe M, Glud RN, and Filippini M (2011) Viral abundance and activity in the deep sub-seafloor biosphere. Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 63, 1–8.
Nigro OD, Jungbluth SP, Lin H-T, Hsieh C-C, Miranda JA, Schvarcz CR, Rappé MS, and Steward GF (2017) Viruses in the Oceanic Basement. MBio 8, e02129–16. doi:10.1128/mBio.02129-16.
Williamson SJ, Cary SC, Williamson KE, Helton RR, Bench SR, Winget D, and Wommack KE (2008) Lysogenic virus–host interactions predominate at deep-sea diffuse-flow hydrothermal vents. ISME J. 2, 1112–1121.

If you aren’t interested in weighing in on this debate, there are plenty other opportunities. You might consider editing one of the “sorry stubs” listed below. A Wikipedia stub is an article that is too short to provide "encyclopedic coverage" of a topic. 

Six Sorry Sites

Want to get involved but don't know where to start? These six DCO field sites have pages on Wikipedia that would benefit from additional content.


Kola Superdeep Borehole 

Lost City Hydrothermal Field 

Nankai Trough 

Poás Volcano 


Refer to for help improving Wikipedia.



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