For many years now, all kinds of giant viruses have been unearthed in a few of the world’s most mysterious locations. These include Siberia and also locations beneath the Antarctic ice.
In a brand new study, a team from the Michigan State University has been shedding light on the enigmatic and captivating giant microbes and key aspects of the process by which they are infecting cells.
With massive help from next-gen imaging technologies, the study managed to develop a reliable model for analyzing giant viruses, and this is the very first study to find and characterize a few of the key proteins that are responsible for orchestrating infection.
Giant viruses are larger than 300 nanometers and survive for millennia
When we say giant viruses – we mean viruses that are over 300 nanometers in size and which are able to survive for a lot of millennia.
Just as a quick comparison, the rhinovirus, which is triggering the common cold, is only about 30 nanometers.
“Giant viruses are gargantuan in size and complexity,” according to the principal investigator Kristin Parent.
She continued and said that “The giant viruses recently discovered in Siberia retained the ability to infect after 30,000 years in permafrost.”
It’s also important to mention the fact that the outer shells are rugged, and they are also able to withstand harsh environments and protect the viral genome inside.
According to the latest reports coming from Phys.org, the capsids of the species that are analyzed in the study are icosahedral – this means that they are shaped like a twenty-sided die.
During the study, there have been a few issues that really needed to be addressed.
“Giant viruses are difficult to image due to their size and previous studies relied on finding the ‘one-in-a-million’ virus in the correct state of infection,” Parent stated.
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