Giant Viruses Feature Their Own Built-In Antivirus Software 

Giant Viruses Feature Their Own Built-In Antivirus Software 
Computer illustration of the mimivirus particle. Credit Jose Antonio Penas.

Mimiviruses are viruses so big they can actually be seen with a simple light microscope. European scientists have now learned that these bizarre organisms have their own immune system that makes them virtually invulnerable to predatory viruses, suggesting these creatures may actually represent a new branch in the tree of life.

Mimiviruses, which measure just a micrometer across, were first discovered infecting amoebae. These microscopic creatures have more genes than some bacteria, but they’re more closely related to viruses like smallpox. But unlike most viruses, they can actually make amino acids, DNA letters, and complex proteins. In this sense, they more closely resemble prokaryotes, which are…

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