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Mimivirus-like Particles in Sewage Sludge | CDC EID

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Volume 17, Number 6–June 2011
Mimivirus-like Particles in Acanthamoebae from Sewage Sludge
William H. Gaze, Gina Morgan, Lihong Zhang, and Elizabeth M.H. Wellington
Author affiliation: University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

Suggested citation for this article

To the Editor: Mimivirus is a giant, double-stranded DNA virus. Its 650-nm diameter and 1.2-Mb genome make it the largest known virus (1). In 2003, mimivirus was isolated from a water cooling tower in Bradford, UK, after a pneumonia outbreak and was reported to infect Acanthamoeba polyphaga amebae (2). Subsequently, a small number of additional isolates have been reported (3).

Mimivirus has been associated with pneumonia, and this association was strengthened after antibodies to mimivirus were found in serum samples from patients with community- and hospital-acquired pneumonia and after mimivirus DNA was found in bronchoalveolar lavage specimens (4). More direct evidence of pathogenicity was illustrated when a pneumonia-like disease developed in a laboratory technician who worked with mimivirus and showed seroconversion to 23 mimivirus-specific proteins (5).

We report finding mimivirus-like particles during our molecular study of Acanthamoeba spp. abundance and diversity in final-stage conventionally treated sewage sludge from a wastewater treatment plant in the West Midlands, UK. Using metagenomic DNA extracted from the sludge (6), we estimated the abundance of Acanthamoeba spp. by using real-time PCR (7) and found it to be ≈1 × 102/g sludge. To assess species diversity, we amplified an Acanthamoeba spp.–specific 18S rRNA target, which resulted in products of ≈450 bp (8). PCR products were cloned and sequenced, revealing low Acanthamoeba spp. diversity with a predominance of clones most similar to A. palestinensis (22/25 clones), which fall within the T6 clade according to the classification of Stothard et al. (9). A small number (3/25) of clones showed closest similarity to acanthamoebae belonging to the T4 clade, which includes strains considered to be human pathogens, including some A. polyphaga strains.

Mimivirus-like Particles in Sewage Sludge | CDC EID

Suggested Citation for this Article
Gaze WH, Morgan G, Zhang L, Wellington EMH. Mimivirus-like particles in acanthamoebae from sewage sludge [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2011 Jun [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1706.101282

Comments to the Authors
Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

William H. Gaze, University of Warwick–Biological Sciences, Gibbet Hill Campus, Coventry, Warwickshire CV47AL, UK
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