Prompt: What does the article suggest about the role viruses have played in evolution? What do you think? Has this changed your view/understanding of viruses?
This article suggests that viruses have played a key role in evolution. Specter writes that viruses are “driving each infected cell to acquire new and increasingly complex molecular identities.” He sort of says that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. If you survive a virus, your body has acquired some sort of defense against it which has made you stronger. He also suggests that if the HIV virus were to wipe out the entire population of humans that cannot fight it off, it would still leave a few humans that are stronger than the rest. Those few humans would therefore perpetuate genes that give humans resistance to HIV, making the new population stronger. Endogenous viruses are embedded in our DNA (as “junk DNA”) and have been a driving force of evolution. This has completely changed the way I view viruses. I always thought that they were terrible because when I thought of a virus, HIV would come to mind first. Now when I think of viruses, I will think of the fact that females don’t lay eggs essentially because of viruses. I will think of paleovirology and all of the opportunities that viruses bring for research and improvement.
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