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: Researchers describe structure of the largest protein complex in the respiratory chain

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.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Researchers identify new mechanism to aid cells under stress

Jan 26, 2015

A team of biologists from NYU and Harvard has identified new details in a cellular mechanism that serves as a defense against stress. The findings potentially offer insights into tumor progression and neurodegenerative diseases, ...

Researchers image and measure tubulin transport in cilia

Jan 26, 2015

Defective cilia can lead to a host of diseases and conditions in the human body—from rare, inherited bone malformations to blindness, male infertility, kidney disease and obesity. Scientists knew that somehow ...

Researchers find unusually elastic protein

Jan 26, 2015

Scientists at Heidelberg University have discovered an unusually elastic protein in one of the most ancient groups of animals, the over 600-million-year-old cnidarians. The protein is a part of the "weapons system" that the ...

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.