Virolution

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Collins, 2009 - Science - 390 pages
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The extraordinary role of viruses in evolution and how this is revolutionising biology and medicine.

Darwin's theory of evolution is still the greatest breakthrough in biological science. His explanation of the role of natural selection in driving the evolution of life on earth depended on steady variation of living things over time - but he was unable to explain how this variation occurred. In the 150 years since publication of the Origin of Species, we have discovered three main sources for this variation - mutation, hybridisation and epigenetics. Then on Sunday, 12th February, 2001 the evidence for perhaps the most extraordinary cause of variation was simultaneously released by two organisations - the code for the entire human genome. Not only was the human genome unbelievably simple (it is only ten times more complicated than a bacteria), but embedded in the code were large fragments that were derived from viruses - fragments that were vital to evolution of all organisms and the evidence for a fourth and vital source of variation - viruses.

Virolution is the product of Dr Frank Ryan's decade of research at the frontiers of this new science - now called viral symbiosis - and the amazing revolution that it has had in these few years. As scientists begin to look for evidence of viral involvement in more and more processes, they have discovered that they are vital in nearly every case. And with this understanding comes the possibility of manipulating the role of the viruses to help fight a huge range of diseases.

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User Review  - ichadwick - LibraryThing

I've been reading about the ideas Ryan presents in his book for years, ever since the "junk DNA" in our genome was first announced. It never made sense, in an evolutionary perspective, that we would ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

It`s a great pity that I, as author of Virolution, have to suffer an unbelievable level of ignorance from these reviewers who pretend to be knowledgeable.
Virolution was written in five months
. The hurry was down to the fact the contents are very important. I have written a book of the year for the New York Times. What has the reviewer who gave the book one star ever written?
The commissioning editor wasn't bothered with minor reviewing aspects but with the explanation to the public of important new ideas, which needed to be communicated to a large readership. A huge number of scientists globally responded positively to Virolution and I have been commissioned to give plenary session talks at the World Congress of the International Symbiosis Society and the European Society for Evolutionary Biology in July and September this year (2012). Both congresses have asked me to spend several days with scientists helping them to plan new lines of research. Already scientists globally are already taking the ideas of Virolution forward and very important new realisations are emerging from further research. It's really sad that neither of your reviewers appear to appreciate the importance of these new ideas. Had they done so I would have written to them and explained the important new developments.
The difference between the reaction of scientists and the reviewers on this site are major. It is very disappointing when reviewers respond in this way to a revolutionary new scientific idea. How bizarre to think that editing is more important than novel scientific content. In fact the editor criticised is a very experienced one (an editorial director) and an Oxbridge qualified scientist. What are the editing qualifications of the reviewer who called this into question?
The ideas put forward in Virolution are now being taken forward in a fascinating way into biological and medical science. I can't help saying, what a pity that where I should be explaining these exciting ideas in more detail on this site I find myself having to defend aspects that shouldn't need defending.
 

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About the author (2009)

Frank Ryan is a consultant physician based in Sheffield, and an honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield. He is also an international best-selling writer. His book, Tuberculosis: The Greatest Story Never Told, was a New York Times Book of the Year while Darwin's Blind Spot was the 'Amazon Featured Book' recommended by Charlie Munger at the 2003 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. He pioneered the evolutionary concepts of 'viral symbiosis' and 'genomic creativity' and has contributed to the modern understanding of the evolution of the human genome. He is a Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians, the Royal Society of Medicine and the Linnean Society of London.

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