Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of viruses named Tupanvirus soda lakeMICROSCOPY CENTER OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF MINAS GERAIS

Researchers reported the discovery of two giant viruses, called Tupanviruses, yesterday (February 27) in Nature Communications. They found one strain in a highly alkaline “soda” lake in Brazil, and the other in sediment at a depth of 3,000 meters in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil. At up to 2.3 micrometers in length, the Tupanviruses are some of the largest viruses found to date. They are related to Acanthamoeba polyphaga mimivirus (APMV).

The Tupanviruses have the most complete protein-building apparatus discovered in a virus, “with up to 70 tRNA, 20 aaRS [aminoacyl tRNA synthetases], 11 factors for all translation steps, and factors related to tRNA/mRNA maturation and ribosome protein modification,” according to the study. Tupanviruses, like APMV, infect amoeba.

J. Abrahão et al., “Tailed giant Tupanvirus possesses...

Correction (February 28): We incorrectly stated that the virus can produce all 20 amino acids. Rather, it possesses 20 aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. The Scientist regrets the error.

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!