Ten reasons to exclude viruses from the tree of life

  title={Ten reasons to exclude viruses from the tree of life},
  author={David Moreira and Purificaci{\'o}n L{\'o}pez‐Garc{\'i}a},
  journal={Nature Reviews Microbiology},
When viruses were discovered, they were accepted as missing links between the inert world and living organisms. However, this idea was soon abandoned as information about their molecular parasitic nature accumulated. Recently, the notion that viruses are living organisms that have had a role in the evolution of some essential features of cells has experienced a renaissance owing to the discovery of unusually large and complex viruses that possess typical cellular genes. Here, we contend that… 

Giant viruses in the environment: their origins and evolution.

A Place for Viruses on the Tree of Life

When deciding how, if, and where viruses should be placed on the Tree of Life, it is important that the Tree functions best as a model of biological evolution on Earth, and it isimportant that models themselves evolve with the authors' increasing understanding of biological systems.

Giant Viruses and the Tree of Life

  • P. Forterre
  • Medicine
    Inference: International Review of Science
  • 2021
When the first giant virus, the mimivirus, was discovered in 1992, it was misidentified as a bacterium because it was too large to have been a virus by the current understanding. Ever since,

Reasons to include viruses in the tree of life

The argument that viruses should be excluded from the tree of life because they cannot sustain themselves under natural conditions does not hold and it is argued that if organisms evolved equally fast, nature would contain a lot more species of life forms.

To be or not to be alive: How recent discoveries challenge the traditional definitions of viruses and life.

  • P. Forterre
  • Biology
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2016

The origin of viruses.

ORIGIN OF LIFE Viruses in Biology

This article argues that the claim that viruses form a fourth domain in the tree of life can be solidly refuted by proper molecular phylogenetic analyses and needs to be removed from this debate.

The place of viruses in biology in light of the metabolism- versus-replication-first debate.

The debates about whether viruses are alive or not and whether some virus-like replicators preceded the first cells fall under the long-lasting dichotomous view on the nature and origin of life (metabolism- versus replication-first), the claim that some giant viruses form a fourth domain in an organismal tree of life is not consistent with current evidence and can be falsified.

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An alternative view about the nature of viruses based on their properties during the intracellular stage of their life cycle is presented, when viruses express features comparable to those of many parasitic cellular species, and several parasites that are currently classified as cellular organisms are in fact genuine molecular organisms.



What does structure tell us about virus evolution?

Giant viruses, giant chimeras: The multiple evolutionary histories of Mimivirus genes

The large number of genes acquired by Mimivirus from eukaryotic and bacterial sources suggests that HGT has been an important process in the evolution of its genome and the adaptation to parasitism.

The origin of viruses and their possible roles in major evolutionary transitions.

The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells

The existence of several genes that are central to virus replication and structure, are shared by a broad variety of viruses but are missing from cellular genomes suggests the model of an ancient virus world, a flow of virus-specific genes that went uninterrupted from the precellular stage of life's evolution to this day.

Redefining viruses: lessons from Mimivirus

A new definition for a virus is proposed — a capsid-encoding organism that is composed of proteins and nucleic acids, self-assembles in a nucleocapsid and uses a ribosome-encoded organism for the completion of its life cycle.

Viruses take center stage in cellular evolution

The origins of viruses are shrouded in mystery, but advances in genomics and the discovery of highly complex giant DNA viruses have stimulated new hypotheses that DNA viruses were involved in the

Modification of intracellular membrane structures for virus replication

How viruses modify intracellular membranes is described, similarities between the structures that are induced by viruses of different families are highlighted and how these structures could be formed are discussed.

Nodaviruses of Insects

The study of nodaviruses began with the isolation of nodamura virus from mosquitoes in 1956 because it uniquely combined the biological property of arthropod transmission to vertebrates with the physical property of resistance to lipid solvents, a characteristic that is now known to indicate the absence of a viral envelope.