chapter  19
8 Pages

◾ Evolutionary Approach to Viruses in Astrobiology

ByMATTI JALASVUORI AND JAANA K.H. BAMFORD

Take a sample from almost any environment on Earth and observe carefully what you have in your vial. You will nd two types of entities. ere are cells of various sizes, specialized to dierent lifestyles. But, more importantly, there are small protein capsules. Each of these capsules entraps genetic information that originated billions of years ago, probably even before most cellular genes. Yet, despite their abundance, we o en fail to see the small capsules when we become fascinated by the diversity of larger cellular entities. However, we cannot ignore them when we start considering life as a universal process (Jalasvuori, 2012). As the capsules are overwhelmingly abundant, they probably have a signicant role in the evolution of life. erefore, any model attempting to explain the presence of dierent cellular entities on our “pale blue dot” should also be able to explain the presence of capsules. As we are immersed in a sea of capsules, all living systems composed of cells, including the hypothetical extraterrestrial ones, will have their own viruses.