Mimivirus and the emerging concept of "giant" virus

Jean Michel Claverie, Hiroyuki Ogata, Stéphane Audic, Chantal Abergel, Karsten Suhre, Pierre Edouard Fournier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Citations (Scopus)


The recently discovered Acanthamoeba polyphaga Mimivirus is the largest known DNA virus. Its particle size (750 nm), genome length (1.2 million bp) and large gene repertoire (911 protein coding genes) blur the established boundaries between viruses and parasitic cellular organisms. In addition, the analysis of its genome sequence identified many types of genes never before encountered in a virus, including aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and other central components of the translation machinery previously thought to be the signature of cellular organisms. In this article, we examine how the finding of such a giant virus might durably influence the way we look at microbial biodiversity, and lead us to revise the classification of microbial domains and life forms. We propose to introduce the word "girus" to recognize the intermediate status of these giant DNA viruses, the genome complexity of which makes them closer to small parasitic prokaryotes than to regular viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


  • Evolution
  • Genome
  • Large DNA viruses
  • Mimivirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

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  • Cite this

    Claverie, J. M., Ogata, H., Audic, S., Abergel, C., Suhre, K., & Fournier, P. E. (2006). Mimivirus and the emerging concept of "giant" virus. Virus Research, 117(1), 133-144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virusres.2006.01.008