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Virus overcomes ‘enormous hurdle’ to survive

Researchers have uncovered a virus inside a host with a non-standard nuclear genetic code—one that differs from the standard genetic code that almost all living things use to produce proteins.

“The finding is significant because it shows that these viruses can overcome what appears to be an insurmountable change in the host genome,” says researcher Derek J. Taylor, professor of biological sciences at the University at Buffalo.

“So the fact that we haven’t previously seen any viruses in these species with a modified genetic code may not be because the viruses can’t adapt to that shift. It may be that we haven’t looked hard enough.”

The research, which is published in PeerJ, uncovered the highly adapted virus—a totivirus—in the yeast species Scheffersomyces segobiensis (a distant relative of human pathogens in the genus Candida).
 
 

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