Scientists from the universities of Exeter and Cambridge compared viruses that evolved in different species and found “parallel genetic changes” were more likely if two host species were closely related.
“This may explain in part why host shifts tend to occur between related species. However, we sometimes see the same mutations occurring in distantly related host species, and this may help explain why viruses may sometimes jump between distantly related host species.
“At present we know very little about how viruses shift from one host species to another, so research like this is important if we want to understand and ultimately predict emerging viral diseases.” Paper. (public access) – Ben Longdon, Jonathan P Day, Joel M Alves, Sophia CL Smith, Thomas M Houslay, John E McGonigle, Lucia Tagliaferri, Francis M Jiggins. Host shifts result in parallel genetic changes when viruses adapt to closely related species. PLOS Pathogens, 2018 DOI: 10.1101/226175 More.
Can they communicate with each other? See “RNA molecules recognize each other Would that not imply design?
See also: Should NASA look for viruses in space? Actually, it’s not clear that RNA came first. Nor is it clear that viruses precede life. A good case can doubtless be made for viruses being part of the scrap heap of existing life. But no matter. If you think you can find viruses in space, boldly go.
Why viruses are not considered to be alive
Another stab at whether viruses are alive
Phil Sci journal: Special section on understanding viruses
Why “evolution” is changing? Consider viruses
The Scientist asks, Should giant viruses be the fourth domain of life? Eukaryotes, prokaryotes, archaea… and viruses?
Are viruses nature’s perfect machine? Or alive?