How viruses accelerate evolution

All over the world has been used for many years, socalled, "method of directed evolution." It lies in the fact that scientists, acting on living organisms, cause the appearance of the necessary properties at the moment. Breeding new types of bacteria that produce insulin (which ordinary bacteria do not) can be an excellent example. At the same time, as scientists from the University of North Carolina have recently found out, a similar effect can be achieved by acting on living cells with viruses. Moreover, it is quite possible that once this was the impetus for changing species on our planet.

New way to control evolution

According to the Cell magazine, the newThe technique is called VEGAS (Viral Evolution of Genetically Actuating Sequences), and it will allow cells to evolve faster. When developing a new method, scientists used a “clean” cell culture, placed in conditions where environmental factors had practically no effect on it. So, it was not necessary to adapt to them. Therefore, the need to evolve in such cells almost disappears.

After that, a special species was introduced into this colony of cells.An RNA virus called Alphavirus Sindbis. This is the virus that causes one of the fever variants, Sibidis fever. Only in this virus there was one small modification: the bodies of the viruses did not carry dangerous genes.

This is interesting: Predicting how human evolution will go is impossible.

What is the essence of the new way of cell evolution?

The fact is that during normal operationcells, the virus, getting inside, causes a disturbance in functioning (in this case, damages RNA), which leads to disruption of the cell's life cycle and ultimately leads to its death. However, the fever virus is highly variable and, roughly speaking, without life-threatening genes, can transmit this property to living cells.

During the experiment, scientists from the UniversityNorth Carolina placed in a colony of cells modified virus Alphavirus Sindbis. One week after the start of the experiment, a colony of cells was examined and found that, due to the effect of the virus, 22 new mutations appeared in the cells, which is about 16 times faster than in the colonies of cells that the virus did not affect.

Why do you need it?

First, a similar study can tellabout how the evolution of species proceeded, because it is quite possible that, somewhere in the distant past, it was viruses that could become one of the very “accelerating” factors that led to species diversity. Moreover, VEGAS technology can also be used to create adaptive products. These are special drugs that develop independently within the human body and are “adjusted” specifically to combat certain diseases. This means that health, as well as longevity of people, can increase significantly.

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