Giant Virus Essay

948 words - 4 pages

A team of people from the Aix-Marseille University found a giant virus in the permafrost in Siberia. The virus was so large that it could be seen with a light microscope, and was said to be over 30,000 years old. This virus has been named Pithovirus sibericum virus and is 1.5 micrometers long, which is much longer than the giant viruses that were found before it. The discovery of this virus has the science community scratching their heads about what family these newly found viruses belong to. Before the discovery of the Pithovirus sibericum virus, scientists believed that all giant viruses were part of the same family but now they aren’t sure (Rosen, 2014). In the following paragraphs, I ...view middle of the document...

A new strain of mimivirus was discovered and named the mamavirus. Within this strain they found a 50 nm virus that was named Sputnik (Smallridge, 2008). However while researching Sputnik, scientists observed that it was actually a parasite that targets mamaviruses. Another giant virus that was observed is the Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus; this is a virus that specifically infects algae (Van Etten, 1999).
When giant viruses first came into the light, it was observed that most of them had some type of irregularity in their genome. For example, the Sputnik virus has an 18,343 bp genome (Smallridge, 2008). Another example of a giant virus is the Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus; it has a larger than normal genome (Van Etten, 1999). Surprisingly, the Pithovirus sibericum virus has a relatively small genome for a mamavirus (Rosen, 2014). This information alone makes the Pithovirus sibericum virus very different from the mimiviruses and mamaviruses found prior to its discovery.
It’s fascinating that the Pithovirus sibericum virus is over 30,000 years old. Just the thought that anything, let alone a virus, has been able to live that long is absolutely shocking. After unearthing this ancient virus, scientists started worrying about all ancient viruses. The question is, could these viruses be harmful to humans because of how long they’ve survived.
In one of the articles, one of the authors said that they wouldn’t be surprised if another new giant virus was discovered tomorrow (Rosen, 2014). I also found it amazing how many times the mamavirus Sputnik was mentioned throughout all the different articles I found.
All the articles and information that I have acquired has been very accurate. Nothing in any of the articles sounded the least bit fabricated. The...

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