Saturday, May 09, 2009

they're part of the biosphere...,

Wired | A virus so large and strange that it’s redefined the very concept of a virus has been photographed for the first time. It’s even weirder than expected.

The virus was originally discovered infecting amoebas in a Parisian water tower in 1992. It was orders of magnitude bigger than any other virus — so large, in fact, that researchers figured it was a microbe.

It took 11 years for the mimivirus to be officially defined as a virus, though the definition didn’t quite fit. In addition to its enormous size, many of its genes came from bacteria. Some researchers called it a “missing link” that blurred the boundaries between viruses and living cells, between living and dead.

“The new structural finds, along with previous genetic and morphological work, confirm that mimivirus is an odd mix of genes and parts found in viruses, bacteria and even eukaryotes, the organisms that sequester their DNA in a nucleus,” write the researchers.

fist tap to Dale.