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Journal Articles Nature Year : 2023

Mirusviruses link herpesviruses to giant viruses

Lingjie Meng
Chiara Vanni
Hiroyuki Ogata
Mart Krupovic


DNA viruses have a major influence on the ecology and evolution of cellular organisms 1–4 , but their overall diversity and evolutionary trajectories remain elusive 5 . Here we carried out a phylogeny-guided genome-resolved metagenomic survey of the sunlit oceans and discovered plankton-infecting relatives of herpesviruses that form a putative new phylum dubbed Mirusviricota . The virion morphogenesis module of this large monophyletic clade is typical of viruses from the realm Duplodnaviria 6 , with multiple components strongly indicating a common ancestry with animal-infecting Herpesvirales . Yet, a substantial fraction of mirusvirus genes, including hallmark transcription machinery genes missing in herpesviruses, are closely related homologues of giant eukaryotic DNA viruses from another viral realm, Varidnaviria . These remarkable chimaeric attributes connecting Mirusviricota to herpesviruses and giant eukaryotic viruses are supported by more than 100 environmental mirusvirus genomes, including a near-complete contiguous genome of 432 kilobases. Moreover, mirusviruses are among the most abundant and active eukaryotic viruses characterized in the sunlit oceans, encoding a diverse array of functions used during the infection of microbial eukaryotes from pole to pole. The prevalence, functional activity, diversification and atypical chimaeric attributes of mirusviruses point to a lasting role of Mirusviricota in the ecology of marine ecosystems and in the evolution of eukaryotic DNA viruses.


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Dates and versions

pasteur-04085734 , version 1 (29-04-2023)





Morgan Gaïa, Lingjie Meng, Eric Pelletier, Patrick Forterre, Chiara Vanni, et al.. Mirusviruses link herpesviruses to giant viruses. Nature, 2023, 616 (7958), pp.783-789. ⟨10.1038/s41586-023-05962-4⟩. ⟨pasteur-04085734⟩
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