Sickly Flowers, Error Thresholds, And The Dawn of Life

By Carl Zimmer | March 6, 2009 3:07 pm

This chrysanthemum leaf is infected with naked bits of genetic material known as viroids. Over at Origins, Science‘s blog, I take a look at new research that suggests these extraordinary little pests may have a lot in common with the earliest life on Earth. Check it out.

Image: APSNet

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Evolution, Writing Elsewhere

Comments (1)

  1. “A viroid can contain as few as 250 nucleotides.” Looks like a job for complimentary synthetic peptide nucleic acids (PNAs). 16-20 residues ought to do it. HIV is also an RNA virus. PNAs are inert to nucleases and permeate cell membranes (no molecular charge). Turn off the virus by binding to a non-host gene or two.

    Oops! Cures would be financial disasters. Add fugitive ester linkages to only obtain a chronic treatment. Health insurance is good for it at any price. Help the undeserving!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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