Latest Issue of Science News


Feature

Enter the Virosphere

As evidence of the influence of viruses escalates, appreciation of these master manipulators grows

If he were starring in a campy horror flick, Tim Rowbotham might have gasped and whispered, “It’s alive!” As a microbiologist with Britain’s Public Health Laboratory Service, he had isolated an unknown microorganism from an amoeba growing in a water tower in Bradford, England. Rowbotham baptized the entity “Bradford coccus.” He added his new specimen to the collection of bacteria that live within amoebas and continued the search for the cause of a pneumonia outbreak plaguing the citizens of Bradford.

But Rowbotham hadn’t discovered a bacterium. He had actually found a gigantic virus—one so large and possessing such a peculiar mixture of traits that it is challenging the very notion of what it means to be alive.

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

X
This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.