NEWLY DISCOVERED PANDORAVIRUS
PICTURED ON THE COVER OF SCIENCE
The Scientific Equivalent of Being on the Cover of Time
[or on the cover of the Rolling Stone]
Although there have been a number of Tumblr science posts on this recent discovery, the editor’s summary of the original research article in the journal Science is a nicely written overview that makes a good addition.
NOTE the criteria for recognizing something to be a virus in the last paragraph.
Sediment-dwelling amoebae appear to have an unhappy affinity for huge viruses. Giant icosahedral Mimiviruses with genomes of the order of 1 megabase (Mb) were first identified in Acanthamoeba.
Digging into antipodean sediments has once again been fruitful where Philippe et al. (p. 281; see the cover) discovered some enormous viruses in Acanthamoeba, visible by light microscopy and having genomes up to 2.5 Mb.
The Pandoraviruses are phagocytosed by target cells and, after fusing with the phagosome membrane, their contents are released into the cytoplasm where they wreak terrible havoc on its nucleus.
These viruses are encased into a tegument-like envelope and lack genes for capsid proteins, and there are no genes for protein translation, adenosine triphosphate generation, or binary fission—confirming their classification as viruses.
For a more comprehensive account for the general reader, see World’s biggest viruses lurk in Chilean rivers and Australian lakes - NBC News.com.
IMAGE source: Cover Photo — 19 July 2013, 341 (6143)