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Current Opinion in Microbiology
Vol. 25, 2015, Pages: 40–48

Haloviruses of archaea, bacteria, and eukaryotes

Nina S Atanasova, Hanna M Oksanen, Dennis H Bamford

Department of Biosciences and Institute of Biotechnology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Hypersaline environments up to near saturation are rich reservoirs of extremophilic viruses. One milliliter of salt water may contain up to 109 viruses which can also be trapped inside salt crystals. To date, most of the ∼100 known halovirus isolates infect extremely halophilic archaea, although a few bacterial and eukaryotic viruses have also been described. These isolates comprise tailed and tailless icosahedral, pleomorphic, and lemon-shaped viruses which have been classified according to features such as host range, genome type, and replication. Recent studies have revealed that viruses can be grouped into a few structure-based viral lineages derived from a common ancestor based on conserved virion architectural principles and the major capsid protein fold.


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