Mega beats Mimi for world's biggest virus

Oct 10, 2011
A virus found in the sea off Chile is the biggest in the world, harbouring more than 1,000 genes, surprised scientists reported on Monday.

A virus found in the sea off Chile is the biggest in the world, harbouring more than 1,000 genes, surprised scientists reported on Monday.

The genome of Megavirus chilensis is 6.5 percent bigger than the of the previous virus record-holder, Mimivirus, isolated in 2003.

Viruses differ from bacteria in that they are usually far smaller and cannot reproduce on their own, needing to penetrate a host cell in which to replicate.

But M. chilensis is such a giant that it surpasses many bacteria in size and is genetically the most complex ever described.

It was taken from sea water sample closed to the shore of Las Cruces, Chile. Its is unknown.

DNA viruses include pox viruses and herpes viruses, but M. chilensis "doesn't seem to be harmful for humans," said Jean-Michel Claverie, of France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

The study appears in a US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Explore further: In between red light and blue light: Researchers discover new functionality of molecular light switches

More information: "A distant Mimivirus relative with a larger genome highlights the fundamental features of Megaviridae," by Defne Arslan, Matthieu Legendre, Virginie Seltzer, Chantal Abergel, and Jean-Michel Claverie, PNAS.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mimivirus isolated, genome amputated

Jun 13, 2011

In the absence of competition with other microorganisms, Mimivirus, the largest known DNA virus, loses 17% of its genome. This has recently been demonstrated by a French-American collaboration including researchers from CNRS, ...

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.

When viruses infect bacteria

Jun 30, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Viruses are the most abundant parasites on Earth. Well known viruses, such as the flu virus, attack human hosts, while viruses such as the tobacco mosaic virus infect plant hosts.

Recommended for you

Scientists see how plants optimize their repair

11 hours ago

Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found the optimal mechanism by which plants heal the botanical equivalent of a bad sunburn. Their work, published in the Proceedings of the Na ...

Structure of an iron-transport protein revealed

17 hours ago

For the first time, the three dimensional structure of the protein that is essential for iron import into cells, has been elucidated. Biochemists of the University of Zurich have paved the way towards a better ...

Over-organizing repair cells set the stage for fibrosis

18 hours ago

The excessive activity of repair cells in the early stages of tissue recovery sets the stage for fibrosis by priming the activation of an important growth factor, according to a study in The Journal of Ce ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

pokerdice1
not rated yet Oct 10, 2011
Ahhhh! I just stepped on one!