The largest ever virus containing over 1,000 genes has been discovered off the coast of South America.
Megavirus chilensis has taken the title of the world's largest virus from Mimivirus, boasting a DNA profile which is 6.5 per cent larger.
Discovered in an isolated position off the coast of Chile, Megavirus is ten to 20 times longer than the average virus and thrives in freshwater amoebae, single-celled organisms.
Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, from Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, explained that Megavirus is larger than some bacteria.
He told the BBC: "You don't need an electron microscope to see it; you can see it with an ordinary light microscope."
"Everything is initiated from a single particle, and then grows and grows to become this virion factory. That's why it needs all these genes," he added.