The virome contains the most abundant and fastest mutating genetic elements on Earth. The mammalian virome is constituted of viruses that infect host cells, virus-derived elements in our chromosomes, and viruses that infect the broad array of other types of organisms that inhabit us. Virome interactions with the host cannot be encompassed by a monotheistic view of viruses as pathogens. Instead, the genetic and transcriptional identity of mammals is defined in part by our coevolved virome, a concept with profound implications for understanding health and disease.
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