New paper in Science: Discovery in Sewage Plant Klosterneuburg Sheds New Light on Giant Virus Evolution
Giant viruses can have genome sizes larger than that of some bacteria, but their evolutionary history is a mystery. In this study that was performed in collaboration between three US research teams and scientists from DOME, a novel giant virus genome was assembled from a sewage treatment plant in Klosterneuburg (Austria) and subsequently found to represent a previously undiscovered group of these enigmatic viruses. These novel giant viruses encode more genes of the protein translation machinery than any other giant viruses. In contrast to an intensively discussed theory, phylogenetic analyses suggest that these genes are not leftovers from a fourth domain of life, but were rather collected from various eukaryotic hosts by smaller viruses that ultimately became massive.