Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genomic hitchhikers in birds shed light on evolution of viruses

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
The genomes of birds are riddled with DNA sequences from viruses, according to a new study. Analysis of these viral sequences, known as endogenous retroviruses, can provide insights into how both hosts and viruses have evolved over the eons.

The genomes of birds are riddled with DNA sequences from viruses, according to a study to be published on Oct. 16 in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. Analysis of these viral sequences, known as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs), can provide insights into how both hosts and viruses have evolved over the eons.

Related Articles


"We examined the evolution of avian retroviruses on the basis of their fossil remnants in the three avian genomes that have been completely sequenced," write the authors from Johns Hopkins University and Uppsala University, Sweden. The authors go on to say their analyses of ERVs in chicken, turkey, and zebra finch genomes reveal that birds were a hotbed of viral evolution early in their history.

All genomes are cobbled together works-in-progress. Scientists have long known that the human genome, for example, is not all human: like most every other genome studied to date, a good chunk of the DNA we call "human" is actually made up of proviruses, sequences that retroviruses have deposited there to take advantage of the cell's ability to copy DNA and translate that DNA into working proteins. These proviruses can either be inherited in the DNA we get from our parents (endogenous retroviruses), or they can be picked up during our lifetime (exogenous retroviruses).

The study reveals that millions of years ago birds were host to many different kinds of ERVs, serving as a kind of melting pot: a meeting and mingling place where viruses recombined and shared genetic information.

Unlike early studies of ERVs in chickens, which studied selected segments of the genome and uncovered only alpha-retroviruses, this study used complete genome sequences and found a great diversity of viral sequences in bird genomes, representing the same major groups as those of mammals, but exhibiting more diversity. Most of the ERVs in birds were distinct from those found in other animals, probably indicating that the viruses did not move much between different kinds of hosts.

"We conclude that avian retroviral evolution differs from that of other vertebrates," write the researchers. "Avian retroviruses seem to have evolved rather independently from the rest of the retroviruses over the last 150 million years."

Stepher Goff of Columbia University, who was not involved in the research but edited the article for mBio, says genome-level studies like this are a boon to virologists.

"This paper is filling a big gap in our understanding of these viruses," says Goff. "This is something that needed to be done, and advancing sequencing technology made it easy to do."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Bolisetty, J. Blomberg, F. Benachenhou, G. Sperber, K. Beemon. Unexpected Diversity and Expression of Avian Endogenous Retroviruses. mBio, 2012; 3 (5): e00344-12 DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00344-12

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Genomic hitchhikers in birds shed light on evolution of viruses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016085132.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2012, October 16). Genomic hitchhikers in birds shed light on evolution of viruses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016085132.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Genomic hitchhikers in birds shed light on evolution of viruses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016085132.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins