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Curr Opin Virol. 2013 Oct;3(5):578-86. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2013.06.010. Epub 2013 Jul 10.

Networks of evolutionary interactions underlying the polyphyletic origin of ssDNA viruses.

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Unité Biologie Moléculaire du Gène chez les Extrêmophiles, Département de Microbiologie, Institut Pasteur, 25 rue du Dr Roux, 75015 Paris, France. Electronic address:


Viruses with single-stranded (ss) DNA genomes infect hosts from all three domains of life and are present in all imaginable environments. Many new ssDNA viruses have been recently isolated, including those infecting algae, fungi, insects and even archaea. In parallel, culture-independent metagenomic approaches have illuminated the tremendous genetic diversity of these viruses, yielding valuable insights into their evolution. Here, I integrate this knowledge to propose a scenario in which certain groups of ssDNA viruses (including Geminiviridae, Circoviridae, Parvoviridae and Microviridae) have originated from plasmids via acquisition of jelly-roll capsid protein genes from ssRNA viruses. This scenario places structurally related viruses with DNA and RNA genomes into an evolutionary continuum and highlights general evolutionary trends in the virosphere.

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