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These giant viruses have more protein-making gear than any known virus

The newly discovered duo was found in extreme environments in Brazil

By
2:06pm, February 27, 2018
tupanvirus particles

IT’S ALIVE?  Tupanvirus soda lake, seen in this scanning electron microscope image, is one of two newly discovered giant viruses.

Two newly discovered giant viruses have the most comprehensive toolkit for assembling proteins found in any known virus. In a host cell, the viruses have the enzymes needed to wrangle all 20 standard amino acids, the building blocks of life.

Researchers dubbed the viruses Tupanvirus deep ocean and Tupanvirus soda lake, combining the name of the indigenous South American god of thunder, Tupan, with the extreme environment where each type of virus was found. The giant viruses are among the largest of their kind — up to 2.3 micrometers in length — which is about 23 times as long as a particle of HIV, the scientists report February 27 in Nature Communications.  

Tupanviruses can infect a wide range of hosts, such as protists and amoebas, but pose no threat to humans, the researchers say.

Viruses are considered nonliving, but the genetic complexity of giant viruses has

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