Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
New interface
Journal articles

Investigating the Concept and Origin of Viruses

Abstract : The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has piqued public interest in the properties, evolution, and emergence of viruses. Here, we discuss how these basic questions have surprisingly remained disputed despite being increasingly within the reach of scientific analysis. We review recent data-driven efforts that shed light into the origin and evolution of viruses and explain factors that resist the widespread acceptance of new views and insights. We propose a new definition of viruses that is not restricted to the presence or absence of any genetic or physical feature, detail a scenario for how viruses likely originated from ancient cells, and explain technical and conceptual biases that limit our understanding of virus evolution. We note that the philosophical aspects of virus evolution also impact the way we might prepare for future outbreaks.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Olivier Poirot Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, February 15, 2021 - 11:26:40 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 6:28:40 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Sunday, May 16, 2021 - 7:08:02 PM


Publisher files allowed on an open archive


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0 International License




Arshan Nasir, Ethan Romero-Severson, Jean-Michel Claverie. Investigating the Concept and Origin of Viruses. Trends in Microbiology, 2020, 28 (12), pp.959-967. ⟨10.1016/j.tim.2020.08.003⟩. ⟨hal-03141377⟩



Record views


Files downloads