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Life Sciences | Viruses: Essential Agents of Life

Viruses: Essential Agents of Life

Witzany, Guenther (Ed.)

2012, XVI, 428 p.

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  • Most recent empirical knowledge on viruses and their role in evolution and environment
  • Assembles most leading experts in their field
  • Changes biology paradigm from cell first to virus first perspective

A renaissance of virus research is taking centre stage in biology. Empirical data from the last decade indicate the important roles of viruses, both in the evolution of all life and as symbionts or co-evolutionary partners of host organisms. There is increasing evidence that all cellular life is colonized by exogenous and/or endogenous viruses in a non-lytic but persistent lifestyle. Viruses and viral parts form the most numerous genetic matter on this planet.

Viruses have long been considered as disease causing pathogens with often epidemic consequences and major enemies of living organisms. Viruses are now considered to play major roles in the evolution of life. Because they have genes that are not found in any cellular organism they seem to be remnants of early stages of life on earth. Besides their disease causing features and actions as genetic parasites viruses have lifestyles that are clearly symbiotic and even symbiogenetic. Increasing empirical data suggest that some viruses such as endogenous retroviruses and non-retroviral RNA viruses and even DNA viruses prefer cellular genomes as habitat. They determine genetic host (group) identity and genetic host features. Viruses and virus-related modules such as mobile genetic elements and other repeat sequences identified in intronic regions of host genomes play important roles in gene regulation and genetic content (re)arrangement. This book exemplifies some astonishing key features of viruses acting as essential agents of life.

Content Level » Professional/practitioner

Keywords » persistence of viruses - viral infection driven evolution of cellular life - virus abundance - virus life styles - virus parts as regulation models of cellular genes

Related subjects » Evolutionary & Developmental Biology - Genetics & Genomics - Life Sciences - Medical Microbiology - Microbiology - Virology

Table of contents 

Preface; Guenther Witzany.-

1. Revolutionary struggle for existence: introduction to four intriguing puzzles in virus research; Matti Jalasvuori.-

2. Quasispecies dynamics of RNA viruses; Miguel Angel Martínez et al.-

3. The origin of virions and virocells: the escape hypothesis revisited; Patrick Forterre, Mart Krupovic.-

4. Scratching the Surface of Biology's Dark Matter; Merry Youle et al.-

5. Virus universe: can it be constructed from a limited number of viral architectures; Hanna M. Oksanen et al.-

6. The addiction module as a social force; Luis Villarreal.-

7. Viral integration and consequences on host gene expression; Sébastien Desfarges, Angela Ciuffi.-

8. Persistent plant viruses:  molecular hitchhikers or epigenetic elements?; Marilyn Roossinck.-

9. The concept of virus in the post-Megavirus era; Jean Michel Claverie, Chantal Abergel.-

10. Unpacking the baggage : Origin and Evolution of Giant Viruses; Jonathan Filee, Michael Chandler.-

11. Megavirales composing a fourth domain of life: Mimiviridae and Marseilleviridae; Philippe Colson, Didier Raoult.-

12. On viruses, bats and men: a natural history of food-borne viral infections; Harald Brussow.-

13. LTR retroelement-derived protein-coding genes and vertebrate evolution; Domitille Chalopin et al.-

14. Koala retrovirus endogenisation in action; Rachael Tarlington.-

15. The evolutionary interplay between exogenous and endogenous sheep betaretroviruses; Alessia Armezzani et al.-

16. Endogenous retroviruses and the epigenome ; Andrew B. Conley, I.King Jordan.-

17. From viruses to genes: syncytins; Philippe Pérot et al.-

18. Hepatitis G Virus or GBV-C: A Natural Anti-HIV Interfering Virus; Omar Bagasra et al.-

19. Salutary Contributions of Viruses to Medicine and Public Health; Steve Abedon.-

20. From Molecular Entities to Competent Agents: Viral Infection-Derived Consortia Act as Natural Genetic Engineers; Guenther Witzany.

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