Giant virus found in marine predatory plankton

Nov 02, 2010

Researchers have identified a marine giant virus that infects Cafeteria roenbergensis, a widespread planktonic predator that occupies a key position in marine food webs, according to a study.

So-called giant viruses have puzzled evolutionary biologists since the discovery of Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus, which infects freshwater amoebae and has a genome of 1.2 million base pairs that is larger than the genomes of some cellular organisms.

Curtis A. Suttle and colleagues analyzed an unknown virus infecting C. roenbergensis that had been isolated in Texas coastal waters in the early 1990s.

According to the authors, the pathogen's contains approximately 730,000 base pairs, which would make it the largest known marine virus. The virus, named CroV, possesses numerous genes that are typically used by living cells to repair and to synthesize proteins and sugars.

CroV also has that encode some of the proteins that viruses need to replicate but must obtain from a host organism.

Because viruses cannot replicate independently, they are classified as "non-living," but giant viruses like CroV that possess functioning components of the replication machinery challenge this classification.

CroV, the authors report, may also represent a major group of largely unknown but ecologically important marine giant viruses.

Explore further: How to reset a diseased cell

More information: "A giant virus with a remarkable complement of genes infects marine zooplankton," by Matthias G. Fischer, Michael J. Allen, William H. Wilson, and Curtis A. Suttle, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Stories

Penn researchers discover new mechanism for viral replication

Aug 16, 2007

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have identified a new strategy that Kaposi’s Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV) uses to dupe infected cells into replicating its viral genome. This allows ...

Viruses evolve to play by host rules

Mar 03, 2008

Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University have examined the complete genomes of viruses that infect the bacteria E. coli, P. aeruginosa and L. lactis and have found that many of these viral genomes ...

Recommended for you

How to reset a diseased cell

May 01, 2015

In proof-of-concept experiments, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine demonstrate the ability to tune medically relevant cell behaviors by manipulating a key hub in cell communication networks. ...

Mechanisms for continually producing sperm

May 01, 2015

Continually producing sperm over a long time is important to procreate the next generation. Researchers of the National Institute for Basic Biology, National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, Ms. Kanako ...

Training pig skin cells for neural development

May 01, 2015

A pig's skin cells may hold the key to new treatments and cures for devastating human neurological diseases. Researchers from the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center have discovered a process ...

Viruses: You've heard the bad—here's the good

Apr 30, 2015

"The word, virus, connotes morbidity and mortality, but that bad reputation is not universally deserved," said Marilyn Roossinck, PhD, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology and Biology at the Pennsylvania ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.