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The strange lifestyle of multipartite viruses

Sicard A., Michalakis Y., Gutiérrez S., Blanc S.. 2016. PLoS Pathogens, 12 (11) : 19 p..

Multipartite viruses have one of the most puzzling genetic organizations found in living organisms. These viruses have several genome segments, each containing only a part of the genetic information, and each individually encapsidated into a separate virus particle. While countless studies on molecular and cellular mechanisms of the infection cycle of multipartite viruses are available, just as for other virus types, very seldom is their lifestyle questioned at the viral system level. Moreover, the rare available ¿system¿ studies are purely theoretical, and their predictions on the putative benefit/cost balance of this peculiar genetic organization have not received experimental support. In light of ongoing progresses in general virology, we here challenge the current hypotheses explaining the evolutionary success of multipartite viruses and emphasize their shortcomings. We also discuss alternative ideas and research avenues to be explored in the future in order to solve the long-standing mystery of how viral systems composed of interdependent but physically separated information units can actually be functional. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Maladies des animaux; Maladies des plantes

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