What Do Viruses Do?

In his interesting essay "What Viruses Might Do for a Living", Lewis Thomas suggests that viruses may have speeded up the evolutionary processes by helping organisms exchange genetic information.' Related ideas have also been discussed by Benveniste and" Thdaro and much earlier by Ravin, who in his discussion of "heritable infections," called attention to certain similarities between viruses and genes. I would like to speculate on a slightly different version of this idea. The function of' the

Aydin Orstan
Jul 12, 1987
In his interesting essay "What Viruses Might Do for a Living", Lewis Thomas suggests that viruses may have speeded up the evolutionary processes by helping organisms exchange genetic information.' Related ideas have also been discussed by Benveniste and" Thdaro and much earlier by Ravin, who in his discussion of "heritable infections," called attention to certain similarities between viruses and genes.

I would like to speculate on a slightly different version of this idea. The function of' the viruses may actually be to carry temporarily needed genetic material from one group of organisms to another with the purpose of preparing them for oncoming environmental distress. In other words, the vi-ruses may be the information carriers of some kind of a genetic communication network between living Organisms, including humans.

Chemical communication is a commonly used method in nature. For example, evidence indicates that trees whose leaves are torn to simulate...

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