Episode Summary

Gene transfers between viruses and eukaryotes have happened many times throughout evolutionary history!

Microbe of the episode:

Mycoplasma subdolum

News Item

Jesse's takeaways

As we’ve all seen recently, viruses can cause a lot of trouble. Their biology requires them to be parasites inside the cells of their hosts, and they can cause devastating disease, so it’s hard to think of them as having played important roles in the development of life on Earth, including our own evolution.

However, this study found thousands of apparent historical transfers of genes from virus to host or from host to virus in the cells of all kinds of different eukaryotes. Some of these genes play important roles in the cell, helping to make them what they are.

Journal Paper

Irwin NAT, Pittis AA, Richards TA, Keeling PJ. 2022. Systematic evaluation of horizontal gene transfer between eukaryotes and viruses. Nat Microbiol 7:327–336.

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