The search for Archaeal viruses in high temperature acidic environments and characterization of Sulfolobus turreted icosahedral virus (STIV)
Rice, George Ernest
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Viruses of extreme thermophiles are of great interest because they can serve as model systems for understanding biochemical molecular nuances required for life at high temperatures. This two part body of work first reports the discovery and isolation of viruses and virus-like particles from extreme thermal acidic environments (70-92°C, pH 1.0-4.5) in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), and secondly details the characterization of one of these viruses that possesses a capsid structural motif that is found in at least two other families of viruses inhabiting the other two domains of life (Bacteria and Eukarya). This is of particular interest because it is the first example of a predicted but previously undocumented structural relationship between any entities (living or non) that span all three domains of life. The implications of this reported connection lend credence to the theory that there was a common viral ancestor, or ancestors, that predate the division of life into the three separate currently accepted domains.