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HOME > PAST ISSUE > July-August 2011 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Giant Viruses

The recent discovery of really, really big viruses is changing views about the nature of viruses and the history of life

James L. Van Etten

2011-07VanEttenF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageSince their surprising discovery in the early 1990s, giant viruses are being discovered with increasing frequency. Huge in size, and with genomes ranging from a few hundred thousand to over a million base pairs, some surpass the smallest bacteria in size and genetic endowment. Metagenomic studies indicate that the giant viruses are quite common, dispute their late discovery, and that many more await to be identified.


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