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Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-saw-this-movie dept.
bmahersciwriter writes "It might be terrifying if we were amoebae. Instead, it's just fascinating. The virus, found in a hunk of Siberian ice, is huge, but also loosely packaged, which is strange says evolutionary biologist Jean-Michel Claverie: 'We thought it was a property of viruses that they pack DNA extremely tightly into the smallest particle possible, but this guy is 150 times less compacted than any bacteriophage [viruses that infect bacteria]. We don't understand anything anymore!'"
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Scientists Revive a Giant 30,000 Year Old Virus From Ice

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  • 30,000 years old? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:39PM (#46392031)
    I'm surprised this thing is very different to modern viruses given that it's *only* 30K years old. I appreciate these things are always evolving, but I would've thought they'd have done most of their evolving in the previous 3-billion years or whatever. So presumably, being big wasn't a problem for a virus until relatively recently?
  • by Mortiss (812218) on Monday March 03, 2014 @07:56PM (#46392191)
    Well, these viruses may have found a relatively safe niche in a biosphere, where large genome is not a huge disadvantage and simply stayed that way. These giant viruses (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimivirus) seem to have acquired a large number of metabolic genes from their hosts, which in case of human viruses would be very disadvantageous, since in this environment large = easier to detect and eradicate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @10:49PM (#46393439)

    I'm surprised this thing is very different to modern viruses given that it's *only* 30K years old. I appreciate these things are always evolving, but I would've thought they'd have done most of their evolving in the previous 3-billion years or whatever. So presumably, being big wasn't a problem for a virus until relatively recently?

    You're displaying your ignorance I'm afraid, and I don't mean that disparagingly. Viruses are short lived and the number of copies that reproduce is huge. That makes (at least some of) them ideal for studying evolution in short time spans. HIV/AIDS is a key one for studying evolution.

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/relevance/IA2HIV.shtml

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