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A new branch of life found in a pond in Melbourne

By Susan Lawler

Pandoravirus promises future surprises

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The pandoravirus is a brand new form of life, and it’s a bit like a knitted potato. No one can imagine a knitted potato. Klara Kim

A recent paper in Science has announced the discovery of an organism that is going to require a reappraisal of our assumptions about viruses, evolution and the history of life. The authors named the organism Pandoravirus, in memory of the Greek myth about Pandora, who also unleashed something surprising with far-reaching consequences.

The publication by a group of French scientists describes a new kind of virus, which sounds like a little thing, but isn’t in this case for many reasons. The first reason is that these viruses are enormous. Not only are they bigger than Megavirus, the largest virus known, they contain more DNA and the genes they carry are sufficiently different from anything previously sequenced to qualify as a fundamentally new type of life.

We are literally going to have to rewrite the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.