Image of the Day: Giant Virus

The Tupanvirus is named for the South American Guarani God of Thunder.

Feb 28, 2018
The Scientist Staff, The Scientist Staff

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 the most complete translational apparatus of the known virosphere,” Nat Commun, doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03168-1, 2018.

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.