The Presidential Daily Brief


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    Biologists Find Black Widow DNA in Virus

    What tangled webs they weave. Biologists from Vanderbilt University have found that the WO virus — which infects the bacteria Wolbachia, which in turn infects many insects, spiders and other arthropods — contains a gene for latrotoxin, the poison found in black widow spider venom. It appears that a third of the WO genome is made up of eukaryotic animal genes, unlike any other known bacteria-infecting virus. This suggests that WO, which also infects black widows, stole animal DNA and kept it for itself, showing an unprecedented evolutionary adaptability.

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