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Open Access Highly Accessed Hypothesis

The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells

Eugene V Koonin*, Tatiana G Senkevich and Valerian V Dolja

Biology Direct 2006, 1:29  doi:10.1186/1745-6150-1-29

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Absence of evidence or evidence of absence?

Daniel Silvestre   (2007-08-23 17:26)  IFSC/USP email

The presented hypothesis is quite ingenious and is something pleasant to read in these days of pragmatic science. But, I can see that something is missing. This article demonstrate clearly that viruses share "common" features (synapomorphies?) not shared by any kind of cellular life. Hence, is reasonable to assume that all viruses descend from a common ancestor. The missing point is: how one can decide who appeared first (cells or viruses) with this type of evidence? There is no possible outgroups/transition analysis to handle this issue, to my known experience. There is no fossil evidence of viruses predating cellular life nor evidence of absence of cellular with the presence of viruses. Therefore, with the evidence and arguments presented in this paper give sound basis to the existence of a virus world. On the other hand, it fails to present convincing evidence of the antiquity of viruses. So, as a suggestion, would be very welcome and useful to read a thorough account of known evidences supporting the antiquity of precellular "life".

Competing interests

None declared

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