Planet Earth

In the Beginning Were the Viruses

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerMay 12, 2006 2:37 AM


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Viruses have a special place at the Loom--they're ubiquitous and have some pretty profound influences on the evolution of their hosts (including us). But a French scientist named Patrick Forterre wants to take it up a notch. He's arguing that our very DNA is the creation of viruses some four billion years ago. It's a controversial idea, but one that other scientists are definitely taking seriously. I've got the full story is here in today's issue of Science, and here on my web site. For gorey details, see The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for a paper by Forterre that surveys the scenario and the evidence it's built on.

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