Mimivirus and other giant viruses are visible by light microscopy and bona fide microbes that differ from other viruses and from cells that have a ribosome. They can be defined by: giant virion and genome sizes; their complexity, with the presence of DNA and mRNAs and dozens or hundreds of proteins in virions; the presence of translation-associated components; a mobilome including (pro)virophages (and a defence mechanism, named MIMIVIRE, against them) and transpovirons; their monophyly; the presence of the most archaic protein motifs they share with cellular organisms but not other viruses; a broader host range than other viruses. These features show that giant viruses are specific, autonomous, biological entities that warrant the creation of a new branch of microbes.
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