World’s Biggest Virus May Have Ancient Roots
Researchers have discovered the largest virus ever, and they’ve given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus.
In mythology, opening Pandora’s Box released evil into the world. But there’s no need to panic. This new family of virus lives underwater and doesn’t pose a major threat to human health.
"This is not going to cause any kind of widespread and acute illness or epidemic or anything," says Eugene Koonin, an evolutionary biologist at the National Institutes of Health who specializes in viruses.
Instead, the Pandoravirus opens up a host of questions about the origins of life on Earth, according to its discoverer, Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University in France. He says, “We believe that those new Pandoraviruses have emerged from a new ancestral cellular type that no longer exists.”
(Photo courtesy of Chantal Abergel and Jean-Michel Claverie)