Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

They Might Be (Viral) Giants

A few years ago, researchers discovered the largest viral genome on the planet — that of the Mimivirus, which infects freshwater amoeba. It's genome contains more than 1 million base pairs, and encodes genes that had previously only been found in living cells, according to Ars Technica's John Timmer. Researchers recently discovered an oceanic cousin of the Mimivirus — the Cafeteria roenbergensis virus — that has the second-largest viral genome ever found in a single-celled host that preys on the bacteria and plankton in the water. The C. roenbergensis genome is more than 700,000 base pairs long, Timmer says, adding that its "ends are filled with repetitive DNA, which the authors speculate acts a bit like telomeres do in human cells."

At Byte Size Biology, Iddo Friedberg asks, "How much cellular machinery does a virus need to code in its genome to cross the border between life and non-life?"

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.