Our genome is the sum of all the DNA that makes us human. In 2001, when the human genome was first deciphered, it revealed a number of surprises.
The "vertebrate" component, inherited from our primate and earlier animal ancestors, amounts to a mere 1.5%. We had assumed that this would constitute most of the functional genome. Meanwhile we discovered a massive viral presence, in the form of human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) and the viral products known as LINEs and SINEs. This raises some important questions.
What are these viruses? How did they become such a major part of our genome? What are they doing there? What role have they played in our human evolution? What role are they still playing in our human embryology, and in our day-to-day internal chemistry?
Welcome to Virolution, a book that will shock readers with its new perspectives on our human evolution. Introducing the revolutionary new concept of viral symbiosis, which has been confirmed as a powerful force in nature, it explains how the viruses that make up 43% of the human genome are not junk, as was formally believed, but an intrinsic part of us. This has contributed in important degree to our human evolution.
Concluding remarks of the four page review of Virolution in the journal Symbiosis, by Ricardo Santos and Francisco Carrapico, of the University of Lison:
"Frank Ryan's book is an important work because it provides a clarification of viruses's role in evolution and it highlights that mutation is not the only driving force for hereditary change. Using several recent and well-studied examples, he shows that symbiogenesis, hybridogenesis and epigenetic inheritance are also powerful mechanisms of genomic creativity. By making a bridge between biology and medicine, Frank Ryan introduces a new perspective on disease and shows that it is possible to develop new tools to fight several plagues of the modern era, such as AIDS and cancer."