Journal Article

The Discovery and Characterization of Mimivirus, the Largest Known Virus and Putative Pneumonia Agent

Didier Raoult, Bernard La Scola and Richard Birtles

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 45, issue 1, pages 95-102
Published in print July 2007 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/518608
The Discovery and Characterization of Mimivirus, the Largest Known Virus and Putative Pneumonia Agent

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During recent years, the usefulness of amoebal co-cultures as an alternative means of isolating and cultivating fastidious microorganisms has been increasingly recognized. While characterizing a collection of bacteria that had been isolated using this approach, we encountered an organism that, on preliminary analysis, appeared to be a gram-positive coccus. However, additional examination revealed that it was not a bacterium but rather, surprisingly, a virus. The dimensions of the virus particle (diameter, 0.8 µm) and its genome size (1.2 Mb) are far more akin to those of bacteria than to those of previously recognized viruses. These characteristics, together with such features as the breadth and complexity of its gene content, challenge the current definition of a "virus." Furthermore, the virus, now named "Mimivirus," has been implicated as an agent of pneumonia in humans and, thus, should be considered a putative emerging pathogen.

Journal Article.  4693 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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