Viruses are so simple that you can argue whether or not they’re alive – they’re basically a packet of DNA that injects itself into other living things. But it turns out that this DNA is more interesting than I thought, judging from a new paper based on work at the Harvard Forest in western Massachusetts which discusses discoveries that are “among the largest viruses discovered to date.”
That’s “large” as in genome size, drawing the sort of comparison you’d expert from people who work in a forest: “One of them, with a 2.4-megabase genome, we named ‘Hyperionvirus’ in analogy to the world’s tallest known living tree.”
To date, only a small fraction of the microbes residing in, on and around soils have been identified as part of efforts to understand their contributions to the global carbon cycle, and to other nutrient cycles. Soils are also home to countless viruses that can infect microbes, impacting their ability to regulate these global cycles.
You can learn more about it at this article from the Joint Genome Institute.