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Thread: Pandoraviruses.

  1. #1 Pandoraviruses. 
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Recently, scientists (Philippe, N. et al., 2013) described a new genus of viruses: the Pandoraviruses.
    "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."


    Nature News reports that these 'objects' have a viral cycle, but can neither reproduce (via division) nor produce proteins.
    The interesting part about these viruses is, apart from their size (1 Ám x 0.5 Ám), their lack of genomic similarity with other organisms:
    "(...) these viruses (...) are more than mere record-breakers — they also hint at unknown parts of the tree of life. Just 7% of their genes match those in existing databases."


    Elizabeth Pennisi writes in the latest issue of Science:
    "Most of the pandoravirus genes don't look like any genes in known databases, suggesting the viruses originated from a totally different primitive cellular lineage than bacteria, archaea, and eukarya. The tree of life may need to be redrawn to account for these new viruses, some researchers say."

    Although these findings remind us that we continue to discover things that expand and challenge our current knowledge of life,
    I am skeptical concerning the claim that we need to insert a fourth domain of life (as stated in the Nature News article) in order to explain these findings. Should we not wait for similar discoveries?

    What do you think?


    Sources:
    Giant viruses open Pandora's box : Nature News & Comment
    Pennisi, E. (2013), "Ever-Bigger Viruses Shake Tree of Life", Science 341(6143), pp. 226-227


    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; May 21st, 2014 at 05:33 AM. Reason: Spelling error.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    For me, the most remarkable thing about these giant viruses is that they escaped detection for so long, even though they may actually be quite abundant. It's only been 10 years or so since the first giant viruses were discovered. There's a nice little lesson here about science and human nature, and how we can easily be mislead - we assumed viruses were small, so only looked for small viruses for over a century. And that's exactly what was found.


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    ▼▼ dn ʎɐʍ sıɥʇ ▼▼ RedPanda's Avatar
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    Giant PandaViruses?!?

    Am I also at risk?
    SayBigWords.com/say/3FC

    "And, behold, I come quickly;" Revelation 22:12

    "Religions are like sausages. When you know how they are made, you no longer want them."
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    Looking for a virus is very hard. The only way to do this is by getting a match for an already known sequence of DNA. And with only 7% known, the odds are low that these were there. Also, if they don't seem pathogenic, they slip through our detection. Looking under a microscope doesn't work, as you will just see a freckle, a grain of dust, a crystal. And i doubt if you look for virusses under an electronmicroscope, your looking for these giant virusses, your again miss the detection because of their size. You will just think it's a Cocci.

    I wonder if there are diseases caused by these virusses...

    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post
    Giant PandaViruses?!?
    Quote Originally Posted by RedPanda View Post

    Am I also at risk?


    Pandora, as in the first woman, in greek mythology. The guardian of the box that contained the secrets of creation and destruction.
    Pandora - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Forum Masters Degree mat5592's Avatar
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    Would be cool to actually see a virus under a light microscope
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    Northern Horse Whisperer Moderator scheherazade's Avatar
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    An interesting find indeed. Thank you for posting it Cogito Ergo Sum. I find that a lot of news items surface on the science forums.

    Here are a few more details from another report.

    This Pandoravirus is 1,000 times bigger than the flu virus. So big, you don't need a fancy high-powered microscope to see it. That's not all that's big about it, either. Our familiar flu virus carries about 13 genes, but Pandoravirus racks up an astonishing 2,556! Even more remarkable is that 94 per cent of those genes are completely unknown to science.
    Yahoo! News Canada - Latest News & Headlines
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    Forum Professor Zwirko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver
    Looking for a virus is very hard. The only way to do this is by getting a match for an already known sequence of DNA.


    Metagenomic studies of environmental samples is a modern technique. Discovering new viruses in the environment has traditionally been done by using a submicron filter and then using electron microscopy to examine the filtrate - pretty straightforward stuff. It was the assumption that all viruses will pass through such a filter that prevented the giant DNA viruses from being discovered. Indeed, this new pandoravirus was actually observed previously in light microscopy studies. It was not recognised as a virus and dismissed as some sort of cellular inclusion, purely on the erroneous assumption that a virus could not be that large.
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    I wonder if there are diseases caused by these virusses...

    I am not sure about that.
    Dr. Jean-Michel Claverie (co-author of the study) stated:
    "(...) I don’t believe we have the proof at the moment that these viruses could infect humans,"(...)"


    Source:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/18/sc...&emc=rss&_r=1&
    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; July 22nd, 2013 at 12:53 PM. Reason: Indentation.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Not being able to infect humans, is a big leap from not being a danger to any other lifeforms... I doubt a virus that big can cause an infection. It would be to slow for any danger to us, and to big in size, and in basepairs, we would be able to create antibodys for it to easily.

    The only role i would see them preform is symbiotic to fungi or plants.
    Growing up, i marveled at star-trek's science, and ignored the perfect society. Now, i try to ignore their science, and marvel at the society.

    Imagine, being able to create matter out of thin air, and not coming up with using drones for boarding hostile ships. Or using drones to defend your own ship. Heck, using drones to block energy attacks, counterattack or for surveillance. Unless, of course, they are nano-machines in your blood, which is a billion times more complex..
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    More here: My so-called viral life: is discovery new life form? - life - 19 July 2013 - New Scientist

    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Not being able to infect humans, is a big leap from not being a danger to any other lifeforms... I doubt a virus that big can cause an infection.
    Well, they obviously infect some lifeforms (amoebas, apparently) because they are viruses and couldn't survive if they didn't.
    ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    More here: My so-called viral life: is discovery new life form? - life - 19 July 2013 - New Scientist

    Quote Originally Posted by Zwolver View Post
    Not being able to infect humans, is a big leap from not being a danger to any other lifeforms... I doubt a virus that big can cause an infection.
    Well, they obviously infect some lifeforms (amoebas, apparently) because they are viruses and couldn't survive if they didn't.

    Now we just need a mad scientist who alters the genome of the virus in order to make human infection possible.
    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; April 10th, 2014 at 06:08 PM.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  13. #12  
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Update:

    French researchers have discovered an even larger virus in Siberian permafrost.
    This giant virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, has a length of 1.5 Ám (in comparison, E. coli bacteria have a length of about 2 Ám).

    From Nature News:
    "That huge [viral] particle is basically empty," says Claverie [one of the authors of the study]. "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]."


    He concludes:
    "We don't understand anything anymore!"



    Source:

    Giant virus resurrected from 30,000-year-old ice : Nature News & Comment
    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; April 10th, 2014 at 06:09 PM.
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    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  14. #13  
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    I suspect we'll come across a few more oddities like this as the permafrost thaws. This one happens to be entirely innocuous. We can hope that the same thing applies to all of them.
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    I suspect we'll come across a few more oddities like this as the permafrost thaws. This one happens to be entirely innocuous. We can hope that the same thing applies to all of them.

    It is not entirely sure if P. sibericum is harmless for humans.
    Although I cannot access the paper (Legendre, M. et al., 2014), the authors state in the abstract:
    "The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus used as a safe indicator of the possible presence of pathogenic DNA viruses, suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health."


    Yet, I think that the rising sea levels and CO2 concentrations will be more detrimental consequences of global warming than the discovery of a new virus.
    Last edited by Cogito Ergo Sum; April 10th, 2014 at 06:10 PM.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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