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Viruses have been shown to produce their own energy for the first time

An illustration of a mimivirus, which consists of outer hairs and DNA enclosed in protein

JOSE ANTONIO PENAS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

A few giant viruses appear to generate their own energy, which viruses aren’t supposed to be able to do. The finding will fuel an already fierce debate about whether giant viruses really are viruses, and if they are alive or not.

“It is really incredible to have energy in a virus,” says Bernard La Scola at Aix-Marseille University in France. Why any virus needs to produce its own energy remains a mystery, he says.

Up until 2003, all …

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