The Atlantic

A New Discovery Upends What We Know About Viruses

A plant virus distributes its genes into eight separate segments that can all reproduce, even if they infect different cells.
Source: Stephane Blanc

It is a truth universally acknowledged among virologists that a single virus, carrying a full set of genes, must be in want of a cell. A virus is just a collection of genes packaged into a capsule. It infiltrates and hijacks a living cell to make extra copies of itself. Those daughter viruses then bust out of their ailing host, and each finds a new cell to infect. Rinse, and repeat. This is how all viruses, from Ebola to influenza, are meant to work.

But Stéphane Blanc and his colleagues at the University of Montpellier have shown that one virus breaks all the rules.

Faba bean necrotic stunt virus, or FBNSV for short, infects legumes, and is spread through the bites of aphids. Its genes are split among eight segments, each of which is packaged into its own capsule. And, , these eight segments can reproduce themselves, . FBNSV needs all of its components, but it doesn’t

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