Giant viruses are distinct in many ways from other viruses, even aside from their size. One way is the large number and variety of genes they carry in their genome. Though many of their genes are unknown in origin and function, many others appear to take the place of essential reproductive functions, such as translation and protein synthesis. This allows them to assume more control of their host's metabolism and control its resources more optimally.
In this study, the sequence of a giant virus was discovered seemingly infecting a newly discovered microscopic marine predator. The eukaryotic cell feeds on smaller microbes such as bacteria, but strangely, the virus carries genes for several light-harvesting proteins, possibly converting a heterotrophic predator into a partial phototroph.