Retroviruses like HIV may be half a billion years old

Q.  Scientists have found retroviruses to be approximately how old?
- Published on 11 Jan 17

a. 0.65 billon
b. 0.55 billion
c. 0.45 billion
d. None of the above

ANSWER: 0.45 billion
Retroviruses like HIV may be half a billion years oldRetroviruses, a family of viruses that include HIV are half a billion years old, according to scientists.

New research indicated retroviruses have ancient marine origins. They have been with animal hosts through the revolutionary transition from sea to land.

Up till now, it was believed these viruses were just 100 million years in age. Research shows retroviruses are 450 million years old and possibly older.

They may have originated with veterbrate hosts in the early Paleozoic era.

Present in vertebrate ancestors before land colonisation, they have accompanied hosts through transition from sea to land.

What are Retroviruses?
  • A genre of viruses that cause chronic diseases like AIDS, cancer and autoimmune disorders.
  • The 'retro' part of their name comes from the fact they are made of RNA.
  • RNA is converted into DNA and inserted into their host genome.
  • Genomic fossils for foamy-like retroviruses were found in highly diverse hosts.
  • These are including ray-finned fish and amphibians.

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