Evolution is Viral

The Theory of Collective Discontinuous Evolution

Mikhail L. Gershteyn and Iosif M. Gershteyn

Insight Product Co. LLC

First draft submitted to Nature, February, 2, 2010
Posted on Nature Precedings, November, 9, 2010


            Herein will be discussed the problems associated with the origin of species according to Darwinist processes of individual mutations. We will argue that individual mutations cannot be the driving force of species origination. A far more probable explanation is a process of collective mutation that affects numerous individuals near simultaneously akin to an infectious disease. These types of mutations might be precipitated by viruses which would create a discontinuous leap into another species. Such a mechanism also sheds light on the increased rate of evolution observed currently.

I) Darwinian Evolution
According to Darwinian evolution (1), new species occur as a result of two processes;

            Yet it is most important to note that for an individual mutation to proliferate throughout a population it must allow for the creation of viable offspring. It is a central property of a species that viable offspring can only occur within the species, and that inter-species mating will not result in viable offspring (offspring that can produce offspring). Therefore the Darwinian methods fails to account for the origin of species; for if a random mutation created a new species this individual would not be able to father or bear viable offspring. Secondly the chances of there being two identical/compatible random mutations of individuals occurring at the same time and location seems remote, at least to explain every new species.
            Among the main differentiators of species, genetically speaking, are the varying numbers of chromosomal pairs (2). This compounds further the problems associated with random individual mutations being the driving force of species origination. It is hard to imagine such a mutation that would spawn a new chromosome in an individual, and the fact that there would have to be both a male and female with the aforementioned new chromosome, that would have to be compatible, and happen during the same generation, in the same location, makes this explanation very unlikely.
           The attempt to explain species origination as a continuous chain of mutations that branch off for geographic reasons is also lacking as the inherent contradiction lies in the fact that different species are qualitatively, not quantitatively different from each other. If this was the process of evolution in whole, then there wouldn't be differentiation of species, as offspring within a species are necessarily of the same species.

           The only mechanism that would overcome these issues in Darwinian evolutionary theory would be a non-individual process that would affect a localized group simultaneously or nearly simultaneously.

An example of such a process is found with numerous infections diseases. In this case we propose that the cause of the origin of species are similar to infections that change the genetic composition of the individuals. It is known that there are viruses which affect gene code (e.g.3), therefore it does not take a great leap of faith to imagine that similar viruses are the mechanism of collective evolution. If this is the case then we can expect to see viruses that can insert new code or cut code out in a similar mannar to multiple individuals in a population. In this case the group members affected by the virus would be able to produce viable offspring and develop a new species.

This theory makes it easier to understand why the speed of evolution increases over time. The two processes that precipitate this acceleration are the increased length of gene code (more targets) and increased number of viruses that seek to modify the gene code. This process is analogous to the growth in computer viruses with growth in amount and complexity of software giving rise to the increase in virus permutations.

The article presents an quasi-infectious model of the origin of species. This theory allows to overcome the problems and inconsistencies of Darwinian models of evolution and the origin of species. The theory may motivate experiments which would search for viruses that cut chromosomes and the ideal confirmation of theory would be to create a species in a  laboratory using exclusively viral methods.

The authors would like to acknowledge Anatole A. Klyosov for bringing to the author's attention problems associated with Darwinian explanation of species origination.


1. Darwin, Charles (1859). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1st ed.). London: John Murray. ISBN 1435393864.
http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F373&viewtype=text&pageseq=1. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
2. Wikipedia contributors. "List of organisms by chromosome count." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010.
3. Katherine Harmon, Ancient "Fossil" Virus Shows Infection to Be Millions of Years Old Genetic traces of an ancient hepatitis B-like virus confounds common knowledge about viral evolution, Scientific American September 29, 2010

Corresponding author Iosif M. Gershteyn

First draft submitted to Nature, February, 2, 2010
Posted on Nature Precedings, November, 9, 2010

How to cite this document:
Gershteyn, Mikhail L. and Gershteyn, Iosif. Evolution is Viral: The Theory of Collective Discontinuous Evolution. Available from Nature Precedings <http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/npre.2010.5203.1> (2010)