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Weird, giant viruses discovered in Austrian Sewage

This isn’t strictly related to cannabis, but is something interesting to me as a biologist, and I think is relevant to growers in general.

See, viruses have always held a weird place in biology. They’re somewhere between the state of alive and dead, because they exhibit many of the characteristics of life (such as reproduction, response to stimuli, and evolution), but not all of the characteristics (such as internal metabolism). A long-time hypothesis about viruses is that they were “failed” cells – a group or class of early cells that became obligate parasites through evolution. A so-called “fourth domain”, separate and distinct from the three domains that currently exist: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya (to which we belong).

That said, the jury is still out on the matter – these giant viruses carry significantly more genes than most other viruses and are larger than some bacteria. But at the same time, analyses of their genomes suggest they stole most of their genes.

As a biologist… we live in exciting times.

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As is often the case with cool scientific discoveries, there’s a good Radiolab podcast about these giant viruses:

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