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‘Virophage’ suggests viruses are alive

The discovery of a giant virus that falls ill through infection by another virus1 is fuelling the debate about whether viruses are alive.

“There’s no doubt this is a living organism,” says Jean-Michel Claverie, a virologist at the the CNRS UPR laboratories in Marseilles, part of France’s basic-research agency. “The fact that it can get sick makes it more alive.”

Giant mamavirus particles (red) and satellite viruses of mamavirus
called Sputnik