Song in B
UT Arlington biologists have discovered that songbirds carry around an unexpected virus in their genes—modern Hepatitis B. “And it’s been sitting there for at least 19 million years, far longer than anyone thought this family of viruses had existed,” Associate Professor Cédric Feschotte says. He and Clément Gilbert, a postdoctoral research associate, co-authored an article in PLoS Biology that marks the first time endogenous hepadnaviruses have been found in any organism. An endogenous virus deposits itself or fragments of itself in the chromosome of an organism, enabling it to be passed from generation to generation. The finding opens avenues for research that might help predict and prevent human viral pandemics originating in bird species.