World's largest virus discovered

Oct. 10, 2011 at 8:25 PM
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MARSEILLE, France, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- The largest virus ever discovered, 10 to 20 times the size of the average virus, has been found in ocean waters off the coast of Chile, scientists said.

Megavirus chilensis is slightly larger that the previous record holder, Mimivirus, found in a water cooling tower in Britain in 1992, the BBC reported Monday.

"It is bigger than some bacteria," Jean-Michel Claverie, from Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, said.

"You don't need an electron microscope to see it; you can see it with an ordinary light microscope," he said.

Viruses cannot copy themselves but must invade a host to replicate, and Megavirus has over 1,000 genes carrying the instructions to replicate itself once inside its host, the researchers said.

Megavirus was discovered off the coast of Las Cruces in central Chile as part of a general biology collecting effort, they said.

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