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11 Feb 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
A giant virus has genes for eukaryotic histones.
Phylogenetic analysis of the core histone doublet and DNA topo II genes of Marseilleviridae: Evidence of proto-eukaryotic provenance by Albert J. Erives, Epigenetics & Chromatin, 28 Nov 2017.
Giant viruses may play an intriguing role in evolution of life on Earth by Richard C. Lewis, The University of Iowa (+ScienceDaily), 01 Feb 2018. Thanks Thanks, Martin Langford and Stan Franklin.
Giant Viruses May Have Played Important Role in Evolution of Life, Sci-News, 14 Feb 2018.
Viruses... includes more examples of viruses carrying genes they apparently don't need... but eukaryotes do.

09 Feb 2018
Habitable planets could have been seeded by means of panspermia through two different channels: (i) direct impact of interstellar objects, and (ii) temporary capture of the interstellar object followed by interplanetary panspermia.
Implications of Captured Interstellar Objects for Panspermia and Extraterrestrial Life by Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb, arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1801.10254 [pdf draft], 01 Feb 2018.
Interstellar Asteroids Like 'Oumuamua Could Rewrite the Origins of Life on Earth, Gizmodo, 08 Feb 2018.
01 Nov 2017 and 22 Dec 2017: our first reports about this asteroid. Thanks Thanks, Google Alerts & Tom Mazanec.

An ancient virus could be responsible for human consciousness: 4-min. facebook video, posted 08 Feb 2018, re:
facebook logo Arc protein derived from a virus; see 13 Jan 2018. Thanks Thanks, Paul Ringger, Jr. & Greg Irwin.

07 Feb 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
Every day, more than 800 million viruses are deposited per square metre above the planetary boundary layer....
bacteria and viruses in Spain This news comes from an international team who sampled the air weekly or bi-weekly from two mountain sites 3 km high in southern Spain. They found that bacteria and viruses above the atmospheric boundary layer are more abundant, can persist for longer and can travel farther than previously known. They observe that the particles come from the ocean or from deserts, with transport variously affected by weather. And they remark, Rather than being a negative consequence, this deposition provides a seed bank.... The same atmospheric dispersal of viruses and bacteria could also facilitate panspermia from beyond Earth, we notice.

Deposition rates of viruses and bacteria above the atmospheric boundary layer by Isabel Reche et al., doi:10.1038/s41396-017-0042-4, ISME Journal, 29 Jan 2018.
Viruses - lots of them - are falling from the sky, University of British Columbia (+ScienceDaily), 06 Feb 2018.
Billions of Viruses Are Falling to Earth... by Mindy Weisberger, LiveScience, 07 Feb 2018.
Thanks Thanks for links, Bill Smith, Chandra Wickramasinghe and Ted Steele. Thanks for the full paper, Curtis Suttle.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms is the main related local webpage.

01 Feb 2018
Stellar Embryos in Nearby Dwarf Galaxy Contain Surprisingly Complex Organic Molecules, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (+Newswise), 30 Jan 2018. ...Analysis of Interstellar Dust is relevant.

rocks brought back from the Moon by NASA's 1971 Apollo 14 mission
25 Jan 2018
One should carry models lightly and be prepared to drop them if something better comes along, because it happens all the time — Planetary scientist William Bottke, Southwest Research Institute
Bashing holes in the tale of Earth's troubled youth: New analyses undermine a popular theory about an intense asteroid storm 4 billion years ago, by Adam Mann, Nature, 24 Jan 2018.
December 2, 2000: our account of the "late heavy bombardment".

Lisa Pratt
22 Jan 2018
Lisa Pratt, ...has been named the planetary protection officer at NASA. The position is responsible for the protection of Earth from potential contamination by extraterrestrial life forms.... This position would have been judged entirely unnecessary 20 years ago.
Astrobiologist Named NASA Planetary Protection Officer, Indiana University (+Newswise), 18 Jan 2018. Introduction: More Than Panspermia has some relevant history.

20 Jan 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
The genomes of all vertebrates harbor remnants of ancient retroviral infections, having affected the germ line cells during the last 100 million years. These sequences, named Endogenous Retroviruses (ERVs), have been transmitted to the offspring in a Mendelian way, being relatively stable components of the host genome even long after their exogenous counterparts went extinct. ...ERVs significantly contributed to the host genome shaping by introducing genetic variation and novel functions.
HERV-W group evolutionary history in non-human primates: characterization of ERV-W orthologs in Catarrhini and related ERV groups in Platyrrhini by Nicole Grandi et al., doi:10.1186/s12862-018-1125-1, BMC Evolutionary Biology, online 19 Jan 2018. Viruses... is the main related local webpage.

17 Jan 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
Viruses Drive Evolution
This matter-of-fact heading comes in a well-referenced review article by three expert virologists. They confirm this once-radical notion with accumulated knowledge that needs to be more widely recognized. For example, ...the successful transfer of novel viral genes into host genomes is likely commonplace. ...the human genome contains between 8% and 40% virus derived sequences, some of which have been beneficial for human development. (Recognized protein-coding genes occupy c. 2% of the human genome.)

They also remind us that viral genes are mostly unknown. Many viral genomes contain genes that have no homologs except in closely related viruses. ...A recent analysis of all published viral DNA metagenomes found that nearly 70% of virus-associated genes were novel. We think viral genes might enable future life here to evolve in unforseeable ways.

Astrovirology: Viruses at Large in the Universe by Aaron J. Berliner, Tomohiro Mochizuki, and Kenneth M. Stedman, doi:10.1089/ast.2017.1649, Astrobiology, online 10 Jan 2018.
Commentary by Alex Barasch, Slate, 17 Jan 2018. Viruses... is the main related local webpage.

13 Jan 2018 What'sNEW about HGT |
The genomes of plants and animals are littered with the remains of viruses that integrated themselves into their DNA hundreds of millions of years ago. Most of these viral remnants are inactive, but the latest research suggests that some evolved into genes that let cells communicate. (pictured: SEM of an Arc protein) SEM of an ARC protein
Cells hack virus-like protein to communicate, Nature News, 11 Jan 2018; re:
The Neuronal Gene Arc Encodes a Repurposed Retrotransposon Gag Protein that Mediates Intercellular RNA Transfer by Elissa D. Pastuzyn et al., doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.024, Cell, 11 Jan 2017; and:
Retrovirus-like Gag Protein Arc1 Binds RNA and Traffics across Synaptic Boutons by James Ashley, Benjamin Cordy et al., doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.022, Cell, 11 Jan 2017.
An Ancient Virus May Be Responsible for Human Consciousness by Rafi Letzter, Live Science, 02 Feb 2018.
Thanks Thanks for links, Peggy Sparks Lake and Google Alerts. 08 Feb 2018: a related facebook video.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has many more examples of viruses advancing eukaryotic evolution.

12 Jan 2018
You'd expect life to be seasonal, says NASA's Mike Mumma, commenting on the annual cycle of methane abundance in the northern atmosphere of Mars.
Mars methane rises and falls with the seasons by Eric Hand, Science, 05 Jan 2018. Life on Mars! has more.

12 Jan 2018
...the results support the idea that the organic matter originated from ...an ocean world in the early solar system, possibly Ceres.
Halite chemistry An interdisciplinary collaboration of Japanese and American scientists make this observation following their study of 4.5 billion-year-old, millimeter-sized blue salt crystals from two meteorites. Using state-of-the-art instruments, the analysts propose mechanisms to account for the amino acids and other organics (see right), and the varied isotope ratios observed. Lead author Queenie Chan says, Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere.

Their suppositions and conclusion follow the standard assumption that all evidence from space is pre-biotic. But evidence like amino acids in meteorites might also be explained with actual biology, as they almost admit.

Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao3521, by Queenie H. S. Chan et al., Science Advances, 10 Jan 2018.
Ingredients for Life Revealed in Meteorites That Fell to Earth, by Glenn Roberts Jr., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (+Newswise), updated 11 Jan 2018. Thanks Thanks, Tom Fulton and Stan Franklin.
Comets and ...Interstellar Dust are related webpages. 17 Feb 2017: news about Ceres.
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