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The giant Mimivirus and evolution
From ars technica:
“About five years ago, biologists were surprised by the first discovery of an extremely large virus. Viruses are generally stripped down, efficient predators, only carrying as much DNA or RNA necessary to hijack their host and make extra copies of themselves. The newly discovered virus, called Mimivirus, was anything but stripped down; it carried a genome nearly the size of some bacterial species. And, instead of simply hijacking its host, the viral genome carried a lot of genes that replaced basic cellular functions, including some involved in DNA repair and the maufacturing of proteins.
The unsual size and gene content of the virus led one scientist to suggest that viruses could explain the origin of DNA-based life. If viruses carried all these genes, then it’s possible to imagine that one could set up shop in a cell and simply never leave, gradually taking over the remaining functions once performed by its host’s genetic material. This would explain the origin of DNA, which would distinguish the virus from its host’s genetic material, a holdover from the RNA world. It could also explain the existence of a distinct nucleus within Eukaryotic cells.”
Read the full article at ars technica.
Related PNAS article.