Viruses: Agents of Evolutionary Invention

Viruses: Agents of Evolutionary Invention

by Michael G. Cordingley


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Viruses are the most abundant biological entities on Earth, and arguably the most successful. They are not technically alive, but--as infectious vehicles of genetic information--they have a remarkable capacity to invade, replicate, and evolve within living cells. Synthesizing a large body of recent research, Michael Cordingley goes beyond our familiarity with viral infections to show how viruses spur evolutionary change in their hosts, shape global ecosystems, and influence every domain of life.

In the last few decades, research has revealed that viruses are fundamental to the photosynthetic capacity of the world's oceans and the composition of the human microbiome. Perhaps most fascinating, viruses are now recognized as remarkable engines of the genetic innovation that fuels natural selection and catalyzes evolution in all domains of life. Viruses have coevolved with their hosts since the beginning of life on our planet and are part of the evolutionary legacy of every species that has ever lived.

Cordingley explains how viruses are responsible for the creation of many feared bacterial diseases and the emergence of newly pathogenic and drug-resistant strains. And as more and more viruses jump to humans from other animals, new epidemics of viral disease will threaten global society. But Cordingley shows that we can adapt, relying on our evolved cognitive and cultural capacities to limit the consequences of viral infections. Piecing together the story of viruses' major role within and beyond human disease, Viruses creates a valuable roadmap through the rapidly expanding terrain of virology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674972087
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/19/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 427,062
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Michael G. Cordingley is President and Founder of Revolution Pharma Consulting Inc. and Senior Scientific Advisor at Antiva Biosciences Inc.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Obligate Parasites of Cells 5

The Virosphere and Its Metagenome 7

Complexity and "Dark Matter" 11

Selfish Information and the Essence of Being Viral 15

The Emergence of Egotistical Replicators 20

The Viral Empire 21

2 Viruses, Genes, and Ecosystems 22

Lifestyles and Life Cycles 23

Lysogeny: Exercising Temperance 27

Kill the Winner 30

Gene Brokers 33

Selfishness Drives Adaptive Evolution 35

Phages and the Microbiome 39

Unfriendly Competition 42

Chemical Warfare 43

3 Potentiation of Bacterial Diseases by Phages 46

For a Charm of Powerful Trouble 48

Toxic Enablers 49

Choose Your Poison 53

Treasure Islands 56

Prophage Induction and Antibiotic Drug Resistance 59

4 Viruses and Higher Organisms 64

Viruses, Cells, Organisms, and Populations 64

"Just a Virus" 67

Human Rhinoviruses 68

Uncommon Diversity 73

Accidents of Pathogenesis 77

Mutation, Diversity, and Quasipecies 80

5 The Flu: No Common Cold 88

Antigenic Escape Artists 92

Human Influenza A Virus 94

Epidemic Influenza: Dress for the Season 97

Quasispecies, Sequence Clusters, and Codon Bias 99

Correlating Genetic and Antigenic Evolution 103

Seeding of Seasonal Epidemics 105

Pandemic influenza: The Emperor with No Clothes 106

6 Alternative Virus Lifestyles 115

Latency: Till Death Do Us Part 119

All in the Family Herpesviridae 124

7 Evolutionary Mechanisms of DNA Viruses 128

Gene Duplication and Gene Capture 131

Poxvirus Evolution 137

Poxvirus Party Tricks 139

Small DNA Virus Evolution 143

8 Viroids and Megaviruses: Extremes 149

Viroids: The Smallest 150

Evolutionary Reliquary 154

Megaviruses: The Biggest 158

Big and Bigger 160

Virophages: Fleas upon Fleas 161

Chimerism 164

Megavirus Origins: Mavericks at Heart 165

9 HIV-1: A Very Modern Pandemic 167

A New Disease and a New Virus 171

Anatomy of HIV-1 175

HIV in the Making 178

Socioepidemiology of AIDS: A Man-Made Epidemic 182

Within-Host Evolution: A Very Personal Arms Race 185

Shortsighted Evolution 190

Adaptive Evolution: An Evolving Relationship 194

Outrunning the Red Queen 198

Medicine at the Virus-Host interface 201

Resistance Is Futile 202

10 Cross-Species Infections: Means and Opportunity 204

A Rogue's Gallery of Emerging Viruses 207

Adaptive Evolution in Zoonosis 209

Fitness Landscape 211

A Shifting Fitness Landscape 213

The Paradox in RNA Virus Evolution 215

RNA Viruses and Molecular Clocks 219

Arboviruses: Vector-Borne Viruses 224

Evolutionary Compromise 227

Host Restriction 229

11 Future Pandemic Influenza: Enemy at the Gates 236

Real and Present Danger 238

Pandemic Threat Level 241

The Pandemic Phenotype 242

Outbreak 246

12 Ebolavirus 248

EBOV Makona 251

What We Were Afraid to Say about Ebola 253

Evolution or Adaptive Change 256

EBOV Persistence 260

13 Viral Zoonoses and Animal Reservoirs 262

The Usual Suspects 264

Filovirus Origins 265

Bats and Viral Zoonoses 266

A Special Relationship 267

Tolerance and Resistance 269

14 Endogenous Retroviruses: Our Viral Heritage 275

Genome Invasion by Retroviruses 277

Endogenization in Progress 282

Change Agents 286

Domestication of ERV Genes 290

Endogenous Viral Elements 294

15 Viruses as Human Tools 299

Myxoma Virus: Biological Control 300

Genomics of an Attenuated Poxvirus 303

Orthopoxviruses: Past Solutions and Future Problems 305

Live-Attenuated Viruses 307

Attenuation by Design 310

Virus Therapeutics 311

Doctor's Little Helpers 312

Oncolytic Viruses 313

16 Conclusion: Humanity and Viruses 317

The Human Future and Viruses 318

Beauty in Design 321

References 325

Acknowledgments 363

Index 365

Customer Reviews