Resembling a living cell to a virus is just like comparing the Sistine Chapel to a backyard dog house. Missing the intricate machinery of living cells, viruses represent biology stripped down to an extreme degree. They’re the true minimalists of the biological world.
However, the field of virology is brimming with unanswered questions on these architecturally easy, but mysterious entities. In the new analysis, Arvind Varsani, a molecular virologist at Arizona State University, joins a prestigious international staff to discover a particular class of viruses, ferreting out genetic fragments revealing the complexities of viral evolution.
The brand new research examines the evolutionary dynamics of circular Rep-encoding single-stranded (CRESS) DNA viruses. The findings present that this broad class of single-stranded DNA viruses, which infect all three mobile domains of life, have acquired their genetic components by complex evolutionary processes not traceable to a single ancestral occasion. Rather, viruses are obsessive borrowers, appropriating genetic materials from many sources, together with bacterial, archaeal and eukaryotic cells in addition to circular parasitic replicons, referred to as plasmids, and other mobile genetic elements, equivalent to transposons.
When a group of mobile parts—like CRESS DNA viruses— arise from greater than a single common evolutionary ancestor or ancestral group, they’re often known as polyphyletic. The phenomenon is common within the viral world, presenting both challenges and opportunities for researchers, because the definitions, taxonomies and evolutionary trajectories of this vast domain are reconsidered, with the help of powerful new techniques.