Used contact lens solution hosts giant virus, ecosystem of parasites

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2012-10-23

Giant viruses being built inside an infected cell.

In July of last year, researchers in France described a rather disturbing example of what could happen if you're not careful about cleaning your contact lenses. A 17-year-old patient had been wearing monthly lenses well past their expiration date, and rinsing them with a cleaning solution she'd diluted with tap water. The end result was an eye infection. Luckily, a bit of care managed to clear it up.

In the meantime, the people who treated her dumped some of the solution out of her contact lens case and started trying to culture any parasites that would grow out of it. In the end, they got an entire ecosystem—all contained inside a single strain of amoeba. Among the parasites-within-parasites were a giant virus, a virus that targets that virus, and a mobile piece of DNA that can end up inserting into either of them.

When they first grew the amoeba from the contact lens cleaning solution, they found it contained two species of bacteria living inside it. But they also found a giant virus, which they called Lentille virus. These viruses have been known for a while, and they tend to affect amoebas, so this wasn't a huge surprise.

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