Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Mimivirus

Apparently this news is a couple of years old but I had not yet heard until reading the comments from the previously mentioned post in The Loom.
Here are a few links about the Mimivirus which is short for mimicking microbe because it is so large it was initially mistaken for a bacteria. It is consideried by many to qualify as a living organism by standards which generally exclude viruses.

From CBC:
Giant virus discovered in water tower
Last Updated Mon, 31 Mar 2003 12:17:15
PARIS - A massive virus has been found lurking in a British water cooling tower. The virus lives in single-celled organisms called amoebae and may be able to infect humans..Read on

Here is a press release from 3/28/03:
Mimivirus: discovery of a giant virus.A team of French researchers in Marseille has isolated and characterized a virus found in amoebas that is much bigger than any virus ever found to date. This virus, dubbed "Mimivirus" by its discoverers (Bernard La Scola et al., Université de la Méditerranée, Faculté de Médecine, Unité des Rickettsies, CNRS UMR 6020), has a diameter and genetic material about the size of that of some bacteria, much larger than any virus that has been identified as of this time....Read on

Wikipedia has a nice piece as well.

Finally if you are serious about this one, it looks like is the place to go.

UPDATE: See the comments for a note from Jean-Michel Claverie, Editor-in-Chief of, promising upcoming announcements of new features of the Mimivirus.

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Blogger gaw3 said...

I love the BBC title! I can just imagine a virus-shaped godzilla lurking in a water tower. Wouldn't want to host that baby...

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Jean-Michel.Claverie said...

Thanks for your interest in Mimivirus. I stumbled on your comment thanks to the raw power of Google.

You'll be interested to know that we have identified a few more unprecedented features in this virus, that make it even more puzzling and unique. Manuscripts are now submitted, and we cannot say more (embargo!) before these are accepted.
Of course, we are taking a lot of flack from the classical evolutionists that continue to adhere to the traditional view that viruses are nothing but a random bag of genes, and do not deserve to be considered "living" organisms. On the contrary, a smaller but more audacious part of the community now start to believe that very ancient (3 billion years) Mimivirus-like microbes may have given raise to .... eukaryotes (nucleated cells from which we are made). Thus in a way, these virus might be making the giant leap from been considered evolutionary garbage to becoming our ancestors!
Thanks again, and stay tune on for more!

And, by the way. This is a great blog you have.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Henry said...

Thanks for the update! I will certainly stay tuned for further develpments.

5:08 AM  
Anonymous virology student said...

any idea why isn't working?

5:54 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

No I don't. I haven't checked it in a while so I don't know how long it has been down. But if you still want more information, back in August I made an update which has a couple of good links that are still active. Be sure and check out The Mimivirus and the emerging Concept of the Giant Virus.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lab that hosts (IGS) is moving to new locations (Luminy) - the main web site is still down, but this shall change soon ..

.. in the meantime you may like to take a look at a new paper on Mimivirus in PNAS.

1:21 PM  

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