News & Events
Detected "giant viruses" pose a considerable threat
- January 12, 2020
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
A joint team of virological researchers from France, Sweden and Brazil today published their article in the scientific journal Nature Communications, where team leaders informed the scientific community that they were able to find two unique strains of the so-called “giant” viruses. The most important feature of the viral strains found is that they possess a highly developed apparatus and some properties that make virologists think about the reclassification of viruses as such. In addition, the strains found have very interesting features of their DNA, which can be extremely useful for studying and for deepening the understanding of the nature of viruses.
Less than ten years ago, virologists discovered and studied the so-called mimivirus, which is a class of giant viruses that are even larger than bacteria in size. But only now, with the discovery of these two strains – named under the common name Tupanvirus – the study of this class of viruses can significantly advance. It is worth noting that these strains were found in Lake Soda, in Brazil and on the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
The most unusual feature of these viruses is that they possess a highly developed reproductive apparatus – thanks to it and the high complexity of their DNA, these viruses can create 1,425 types of proteins. In addition, they can also create their own peptides using RNA, which significantly distinguishes them from any other viruses – because others cannot survive without a carrier and, moreover, use RNA.
Given that the genome of these tupanviruses contains approximately 1.5 million pairs of DNA bases, it becomes clear that their study is currently very important and priority to improve our understanding of the nature of viruses. In addition, their ability to use RNA instructions strongly distinguishes them from the usual classes of viruses and makes us think that perhaps viruses as such can still be attributed to the category of independent living organisms. However, specialists have yet to conduct additional tests.