Giant viruses (ten times larger than the average virus) were first discovered in 2003 and they turn out to matter in the history of life:
In the ultimate game of genetic hide and seek, scientists at Virginia Tech have identified several instances in which they found giant virus genomes embedded—some in their entirety—in the genomes of their hosts. The results, published today (November 18) in Nature, suggest that such integration by giant viruses may be more common than previously believed and that these viruses are likely an underappreciated source of genetic diversity in eukaryotes.
“We always assumed that [giant viruses] that can integrate into host genomes were not common,” Karen Weynberg, a virologist at the University of Queensland in Australia who was not involved in the work, tells The Scientist. “Now they’ve shown that these viruses are able to integrate on a much wider scope than we ever really perceived. It’s going to be groundbreaking, and I think people will be looking more into where these viruses are popping up.”Amanda Heldt, “Giant Viruses Can Integrate into the Genomes of Their Hosts” at The Scientist
So can that French scientist Didier Raoult, who discovered the mimivirus, come out of the doghouse now? He was confined for doubting Darwin. But who really has time for Darwin now, honestly?
See: Mimivirus discoverer doubts Darwin, banned from publication In France Alors, Bonjour, Vichy Darwinisme! Ici la Resistance reporting.