Structural co-evolution of viruses and cells in the primordial world

Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2008 Apr;38(2):165-81. doi: 10.1007/s11084-008-9121-x. Epub 2008 Jan 29.


Viruses and cells co-evolve due to the parasitic nature of viruses. Yet there are no models suggesting how the unicellular organisms and their viruses might co-evolve structurally. Here, in this study, we plunge into this unexplored field from a wide perspective and try to describe some of the intriguing ways in which viruses may have shaped the cellular life forms on the ancient Earth. At first we propose a scenario where viruses act as a driving force in the emergence of bacterial cell walls by providing favorable intermediates for the otherwise improbable steps in the cell wall generation. We also discuss the role of viruses in the evolution of cell surface components such as receptors and second membranes. Finally we focus on hypothetical proto-viruses, the selfish abusers of the RNA-world, in explaining some of the very early stages in the origin and evolution of life. Proto-viruses may be responsible for creating the first true cells in order to support their selfish needs. In this model we also suggest a logical pathway to explaining the emergence of modern viruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Wall / physiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology*
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena
  • Viruses*