Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics 3rd Edition

Chapter 16: Viruses

Viruses exist on the borderline of the definition of life, capable of growing, replicating, and evolving but always needing a host to survive. Richard Dawkins once wrote that a body is DNA's way of making more DNA; for viruses, whether they are made of DNA or RNA there is often very little body to speak of. Chapter 16 describes bioinformatics approaches to these remarkable entities. We describe the diversity of viruses (including insights from metagenomics sequencing projects), and approaches to virus classification based on morphology, nucleic acid, and human disease relevance. Specific topics include influenza, Herpesvirus, human immunodeficiency virus, measles virus, and the mysterious giant viruses that have genomes in a range of megabases, even larger than many bacterial and archaeal genomes.