Pandoraviruses: amoeba viruses with genomes up to 2.5 Mb reaching that of parasitic eukaryotes

Science. 2013 Jul 19;341(6143):281-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1239181.


Ten years ago, the discovery of Mimivirus, a virus infecting Acanthamoeba, initiated a reappraisal of the upper limits of the viral world, both in terms of particle size (>0.7 micrometers) and genome complexity (>1000 genes), dimensions typical of parasitic bacteria. The diversity of these giant viruses (the Megaviridae) was assessed by sampling a variety of aquatic environments and their associated sediments worldwide. We report the isolation of two giant viruses, one off the coast of central Chile, the other from a freshwater pond near Melbourne (Australia), without morphological or genomic resemblance to any previously defined virus families. Their micrometer-sized ovoid particles contain DNA genomes of at least 2.5 and 1.9 megabases, respectively. These viruses are the first members of the proposed "Pandoravirus" genus, a term reflecting their lack of similarity with previously described microorganisms and the surprises expected from their future study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amoeba / virology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fresh Water / virology
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Mimiviridae / classification*
  • Mimiviridae / genetics*
  • Mimiviridae / isolation & purification
  • Mimiviridae / ultrastructure
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Proteomics
  • Seawater / virology

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KC977470
  • GENBANK/KC977471