Research Topic

Viruses, Genetic Exchange, and the Tree of Life

About this Research Topic

Despite significant breakthroughs in sequencing technologies and bioinformatics-driven biological research, fundamental questions such as the origin and evolution of cellular domains, the origin(s) of viruses, as well as their contributions to the genetic makeup and evolution of cells remain hotly ...

Despite significant breakthroughs in sequencing technologies and bioinformatics-driven biological research, fundamental questions such as the origin and evolution of cellular domains, the origin(s) of viruses, as well as their contributions to the genetic makeup and evolution of cells remain hotly debated.

Specifically, the discovery of “giant” viruses in the early 21 st century revived the debates on the definition and place of viruses in the tree of life. The traditional views about viruses as selfish “non-living” parasitic macromolecular processes are now discarded by many evolutionary biologists who perceive viruses as creators of genetic novelty and major drivers behind evolutionary transitions. Recent research has also revealed roles of viruses in forming beneficial partnerships with cellular organisms to combat mutual enemies, thus acting as beneficial agents to drive cellular evolution.

In summary, the 21 st century has already seen exciting new proposals challenging the historical dichotomy between viruses and cellular organisms, ranging from their basic definitions to ancient evolutionary relationships.

In this Research Topic, we aim to specifically address long-standing biological questions that have intrigued common public and scientific community, alike, for centuries. We aim to develop a resource that will host latest research on following basic evolutionary biology questions:

(1) How has the discovery of giant viruses influenced our definitions of viruses and their place in the tree of life?
(2) How many viral lineages can be characterized either by traditional or novel methods?
(3) Methods and technologies to capture the entire viral diversity on the planet
(4) Monophyletic vs. polyphyletic origins of viruses
(5) Emergence, evolution, and spread of human viruses
(6) Horizontal gene transfer to and from viruses
(7) How are new genes created?
(8) Evolutionary relationships among Archaea, Bacteria, Eukarya, and viruses

This Research Topic is open to original articles, reviews, new methods and protocols addressing above questions, and perspectives.


Keywords: Origin of Viruses, Genetic Innovations, Tree of Life, Horizontal Gene Transfer


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2019 Manuscript

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Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 January 2019 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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