Meet Earth’s biggest virus. She doesn’t bite

Earth's biggest virus PNAS
Megavirus chilensis is 10-20 times as wide as normal viruses and is bigger than some bacteria. You can see her with an ordinary light microscope – that is after you’ve spent some time swimming in the Pacific off the coast of Chile, because that’s where French researchers discovered M. chilensis, they write in PNAS.

The distant relative of earlier discovered and previous size-record holders Mimivirae is not dangerous to humans. In fact, if you think they look a little furry, you’re right. Chilensis uses hairlike structures to catch amoebas and enter these to use them as floating reproduction factories. No doubt if you too were a defenceless single-celled marine prey you’d think less kindly of the latest addition to Earth’s biodiversity library.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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