Viruses are some of the most mysterious organisms on Earth. They’re among the world’s tiniest lifeforms, and because none can survive and reproduce without a host, some scientists have questioned whether they should even be considered living things. Now, scientists have discovered one that has no recognizable genes, making it among the strangest of all known viruses…
Yaravirus’s size wasn’t the only thing weird about it. When the team sequenced its genome, none of its genes matched any scientists had come across before, the group reports on the bioRxiv preprint server.
Viral novelty doesn’t surprise Elodie Ghedin of New York University, who looks for viruses in wastewater and in respiratory systems. More than 95% of the viruses in sewage data have “no matches to reference genomes [in databases],” she says. Like Abrahão, she says, “We seem to be discovering new viruses all the time.”Elizabeth Pennisi, “Scientists discover virus with no recognizable genes” at Science
From what they’re saying, viruses don’t necessarily share any characteristics of common descent. Let alone universal common descent.
Jury’s still out but this is big.
Before you go: One way viruses get spread “never should have evolved”
Reset! Different segs of virus genome can exist in different cells but work together
Viruses devolve. (PaV)
Virus expert highlights the conflict over whether viruses are alive In short, it is an open question. The question relates to the role viruses can play in evolution, among other things. Are they precursors of life, detritus of life, or something in between? Or all three? Keep the file open.
Viruses invent their own genes? Then what is left of Darwinism?
Why viruses are not considered to be alive
Another stab at whether viruses are alive
Phil Sci journal: Special section on understanding viruses
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 “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?