Astrobiologist Named NASA Planetary Protection Officer, Indiana University (+Newswise), 18 Jan 2018. Introduction: More Than Panspermia has some relevant history.
HERV-W group evolutionary history in non-human primates: characterization of ERV-W orthologs in Catarrhini and related ERV groups in Platyrrhini by Nicole Grandi et al., doi:10.1186/s12862-018-1125-1, BMC Evolutionary Biology, online 19 Jan 2018. Viruses... is the main related local webpage.
This matter-of-fact heading comes in a well-referenced review article by three expert virologists. They confirm this once-radical notion with accumulated knowledge that needs to be more widely recognized. For example, ...the successful transfer of novel viral genes into host genomes is likely commonplace. ...the human genome contains between 8% and 40% virus derived sequences, some of which have been beneficial for human development.
They also remind us that viral genes are mostly unknown. Many viral genomes contain genes that have no homologs except in closely related viruses. ...A recent analysis of all published viral DNA metagenomes found that nearly 70% of virus-associated genes were novel. We think viral genes might enable future life here to evolve in unforseeable ways.
Commentary by Alex Barasch, Slate, 17 Jan 2018. Viruses... is the main related local webpage.
Cells hack virus-like protein to communicate by Sara Reardon, Nature News, 11 Jan 2018; re:
The Neuronal Gene Arc Encodes a Repurposed Retrotransposon Gag Protein that Mediates Intercellular RNA Transfer by Elissa D. Pastuzyn et al., doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.024, Cell, 11 Jan 2017; and:
Retrovirus-like Gag Protein Arc1 Binds RNA and Traffics across Synaptic Boutons by James Ashley, Benjamin Cordy et al., doi:10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.022, Cell, 11 Jan 2017.
Viruses and Other Gene Transfer Mechanisms has many more examples of viruses advancing eukaryotic evolution.
Mars methane rises and falls with the seasons by Eric Hand, Science, 05 Jan 2018. Life on Mars! is related.
An interdisciplinary collaboration of Japanese and American scientists make this observation following their study of 4.5 billion-year-old, millimeter-sized blue salt crystals from two meteorites. Using state-of-the-art instruments, the analysts propose mechanisms to account for the amino acids and other organics (see right), and the varied isotope ratios observed. Lead author Chan says, Everything leads to the conclusion that the origin of life is really possible elsewhere.
Their suppositions and conclusion follow the standard assumption that all evidence from space is pre-biotic. But evidence like amino acids in meteorites might also be explained with actual biology, as they almost admit.Organic matter in extraterrestrial water-bearing salt crystals, doi:10.1126/sciadv.aao3521, by Queenie H. S. Chan et al., Science Advances, 10 Jan 2018.
Ingredients for Life Revealed in Meteorites That Fell to Earth, by Glenn Roberts Jr., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (+Newswise), updated 11 Jan 2018. Thanks, Tom Fulton and Stan Franklin.
Comets and ...Interstellar Dust are related webpages. 17 Feb 2017: news about Ceres.