Giant marine virus found

Researchers discover yet another virus with a large, complex genome, suggesting they may be fairly common

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef (an unusual nickname for Jennifer) got her master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses. After four years of diving off the Gulf...

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Oct 24, 2010
With a genome of more than 700 kilobases, a newly discovered virus marks the first giant virus known to infect a marine organism, and the second largest virus ever recorded.
Image: Wikimedia commons
The discovery, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), adds to the growing list of giant DNA viruses and suggests that these viruses, which appear to obtain much of their large genomes from their hosts and other microorganisms, may be more commonplace than scientists once believed."It's really interesting, and a completely different way of seeing viruses," said microbiologist linkurl:Didier Raoult;http://www.antimicrobe.org/authors/didier_raoult.asp of the University of the Mediterranean in Marseille, France, who was not involved in the research. "It's a completely new field that is emerging."These viruses "are probably playing a big role in the genetic diversity of organisms in the ocean as well," said microbiologist linkurl:James Van Etten;http://www.unl.edu/virologycenter/faculty/vanetten.shtml of the University of...
PNASCafeteria roenbergensisC. roenbergensisEditor's Note: A linkurl:2005 paper in also found a large DNA virus in marine microalga. The virus discovered by Suttle and colleagues is in fact the largest marine virus found to date, with a genome nearly twice the size of any other sequenced marine virus. There is no official definition of "giant virus," and conservative researchers would only include the Mimivirus and Mimi-like viruses (such as CroV), according to coauthor linkurl:Matthias Fischer.;http://www.ocgy.ubc.ca/%7Esuttle/?p=matthias As a result, some would indeed call this the first "giant" virus found in a marine organism.


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