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© Mart Krupovic, Junfeng Liu
Scanning electron micrograph of Saccharolobus islandicus cells (light blue) infected with the lemon-shaped virus STSV2 (yellow). Artistic rendering by Ala Krupovic.
Publication : Environmental Microbiology

The global virome: how much diversity and how many independent origins?

Scientific Fields
Diseases
Organisms
Applications
Technique

Published in Environmental Microbiology - 12 Sep 2022

Koonin EV, Krupovic M, Dolja VV

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36097140

Link to DOI – 10.1111/1462-2920.16207

Environ Microbiol 2022 Sep; In press.

Viruses are considered to be the most abundant biological entities on earth. They also display striking genetic diversity as emphatically demonstrated by the recent advances of metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. But what are the limits of this diversity, that is, how many virus species in the earth virome? By combining the available estimates of the number of prokaryote species with those of the virome size, we obtain back of the envelope estimates of the total number of distinct virus species, which come out astronomically large, from about 107 to about 109 . The route of virus origins apparently involved non-viral replicators capturing and exapting various cellular proteins to become virus capsid subunits. How many times in the history of life has this happened? In other words, how many realms of viruses, the highest rank taxa that are supposed to be monophyletic, comprise the global virome? We argue that viruses emerge on a number (even if far from astronomical) independent occasions, so that the number of realms will considerably increase from the current 6, by splitting some of the current realms, giving the realm status to some of the currently unclassified groups of viruses and discovery of new distinct groups.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36097140