Viruses have always had a poor reputation as transmitters of death and sickness. However, Daniel Specter shows that perhaps the tiny viruses that have made hosts of living bodies for their own benefit are not as bad as we think. The most surprising part of his article was the analysis of the effect of viruses and how they can be incorporated into their host’s DNA. It proves that viruses can be of a great benefit to their hosts as well. Research scientist Heidmann stated that viruses might have played a role in giving mammals the ability to have live births which proved to be an advantage for embryonic development and resulted in more well-developed species. Still, these endergonic viruses can still prove to be dangerous especially in the case of the endangered koala species where
The ability for viruses to become endergonic has had a large effect on evolution. The most shocking result is seeing how the TRIM5a protein evolved differently in humans and chimpanzees and ended up having a large impact on each species fitness since each could only defend against one type of retrovirus, either PtERV or HIV, but not both.
This comparison between the two primates leads to the most interesting fact of all: how viruses and their hosts interact with each other. At the start of his article Specter calls the endergonic virus “junk DNA” but in the end, it is quite clear that the relationship between the two is much more profound. It points out the cunning relationship between the two and how viruses might dictate the future of the human species. The endless battle of evolution between the parasitic virus and its host is a prime example of how the fitness of an organism relative to its environment will determine the fate of the species and how it will change over time.