Special Issue "Giant Viruses"
A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2014)
"Giant virus" is a perfect oxymoron if we refer to the historical origin of the virus concept: a disease-causing agent capable of passing through a filter specifically designed by Chamberland to stop all microbes known at the time of Pasteur (in the mid nineteen century). To alleviate the confusion that such a combination of words might produce in the minds of the future generation of microbiologists, we either have to specify what we mean by "giant", specify how we define a "virus", and preferably, both. Such an exercise will be helpful in pointing out the insufficient clarity with which the virus concept has been manipulated until today and in designing new sampling protocols that will leave no corner of the viral world unexplored. In this issue, we will first recapitulate the short history of the giant viruses, and the turmoil their discovery raised among evolutionists, viral taxonomists, and even among the general public when trying to answer the fundamental question: "are viruses alive"? We will then describe in detail a typical representative of each of the major families of known "giant viruses", and explore the relationship between them, as well as their relationship with members of other families of more traditional large DNA virus": Poxviridae, various classes of Phycodnaviridae, Iridoviridae, Nimaviridae, etc. We will then discuss the current hypotheses about their evolutionary origin (s), and the role they might have played in the emergence of the eukaryotes. We shall also examine the role these newly discovered giant viruses are playing in the environment, their potential pathogenicity for animals, and how their amazing complement of anonymous genes could be functionally characterized and harnessed into original biotechnological and biomedical applications.
Dr. Jean-Michel Claverie
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