Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version



Van Etten JL, Dunigan DD (2016) Giant Chloroviruses: Five Easy Questions. PLoS Pathog 12 (8): e1005751.


© 2016 Van Etten, Dunigan. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License


Chloroviruses are large, icosahedral, dsDNA-containing viruses that replicate in certain unicellular, chlorella-like green algae [1,2]. They exist in freshwater throughout the world with titers as high as thousands of plaque-forming units (PFU) per ml of indigenous water although titers are typically 1–100 PFU/ml. Titers fluctuate during the year with the highest titers typically occurring in the spring and late fall. Known chlorovirus hosts, which are normally symbionts and are often referred to as zoochlorellae, are associated with either the protozoan Paramecium bursaria (Fig 1A), the coelenterate Hydra viridis, or the heliozoan Acanthocystis turfacea. Zoochlorellae are resistant to viruses in their symbiotic state. Fortunately, some zoochlorellae grow independently of their partners in the laboratory, permitting plaque assay of the viruses (Fig 1B) and synchronous infection of their hosts, which allows one to study the virus life cycle in detail.