Researchers at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France—Bernard La Scola, Christelle Desnues and Didier Raoult—have discovered a new giant virus. It was found living inside an amoeba found in an eye patient’s contact lens fluid. Inside the virus they also found a new type of virophage (a subviral agent that reproduces in amoeba cells) which contained an unknown genetic parasite they’re calling transpovirons. The discovery of the virus is detailed in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lentille, as the researchers named it, belongs to a class of viruses called Mimiviridae. Researchers named the virophage Sputnik 2. According to Phys.org, “Inside of the virophage they found fragments of DNA that didn’t belong to the amoeba, the giant virus or the virophage, indicating that it was class of unknown genetic parasite that they’ve named transpovirons.” The DNA of transpovirons outnumbered the DNA of Lentille up to 14 to 1.
Researchers believe that transpovirons might piggy back on virophages like Sputnik 2 to in effect jump from giant virus to giant virus. Sneaky little fuckers, aren’t they?
Is this cause for concern? No. There’s no killer virus lurking in your contact lens fluid. But the the infected amoeba was discovered because it had contaminated the eyes of a 17-year old French girl. So if your eyes are red, you might be infected!
Researchers suggest that their work will likely result in more research into giant viruses.