If you’re sick right now with the flu or a cold, the viruses infecting you are just passing through.
But sometimes viruses can merge into our genomes. Some viruses, for example, hijack our cells by inserting its genes into our own DNA. If they happen to slip into the genome of an egg, they can potentially get a new lease on life. If the egg is fertilized and grows into an embryo, the new cells will also contain the virus’s DNA. And when that embryo becomes an adult, the virus has a chance to move into the next generation.
Most of this viral DNA is just baggage that we hand down to the next generation. But sometimes mutations can transform viral DNA into something useful.
Read the full, original story here: How Our Minds Went Viral
- “8 Percent of Human Genome Was Inserted By Virus, and May Cause Schizophrenia,” Popular Science
- “Human Genome Is Part Bornavirus,” Wired
- “HIV Virus Awakens Ancient Viral Gene in the Human Genome,” Neatorama