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Virolution

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3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  137 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The extraordinary role of viruses in evolution and how this is revolutionising biology and medicine.


Darwin's theory of evolution remains central to biological science and medicine. His explanation of the role of natural selection in driving the evolution of life on earth depended on steady variation of living things over time – but he was unable to explain how this variati
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Paperback, 390 pages
Published June 25th 2009 by Collins (first published 2009)
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Frank Ryan
May 20, 2012 Frank Ryan rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to put a rating on a book you yourself have written. I'm hardly going to give it less than five stars. But I can't see any other way of communicating about it.

I'm the author of Virolution. All that I am trying to do is to invite readers to make contact. The ideas in Virolution have been confirmed in exciting ways. The message is important to how we see ourselves as human.

I am currently working with scientific colleagues in several countries to take the new ideas further. I have ac
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Louise
Jan 27, 2012 Louise rated it liked it
Shelves: science
A couple of things bugged me about this book.

First, the second half of the book went way off the topic I thought was its focus (the role of viruses in evolution). Fortunately, the material the later chapters covered was really interesting, despite straying from what I thought was the author's main thesis.

Second, I had a lot of problems with the style. I got pretty sick of the way that for every idea or piece of research he described, the author felt the need to start out with "so and so, a resea
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Kirsten Stewart
Aug 16, 2012 Kirsten Stewart rated it really liked it
This is the best popular science book that I have read since Matt Ridley's genome, without the condescending style of writing that I gave come to expect from Richard Dawkins. I have a biochemistry and microbiology background yet found the book challenging and thought-provoking and took my (often quite geeky) respect of the importance of viruses to a new level. I would recommend this to someone who already has an interest and some understanding of the subject matter. And I will be reading it agai ...more
Dennis Littrell
Sep 08, 2015 Dennis Littrell rated it it was amazing
Ryan, Frank Virolution (2009) *****
The starling (and scary) role played by viruses in biological evolution

A major thesis of this amazing book is that plants and animals including most significantly humans co-evolve with viruses. The term "virolution," presumably coined by Dr. Ryan, who is both a physician and an evolutionary biologist, comes from the words "virus" and "evolution" but also suggesting the word "revolution." The idea is that instead of being merely agents of pathology, viruses can
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Eve Proofreads
Dec 10, 2012 Eve Proofreads rated it really liked it
In my opinion, Frank Ryan’s ‘Virolution’ does exactly what a popular science book should. It brings original ideas to a broader audience in an accessible and largely interesting manner. Essentially, it explains the evidence for the role of viruses in the evolution of all species. As a non-scientist reading this, I cannot speak for the accuracy of the content, but I gave a brief précis of it people with varying levels of interest and expertise, and they all said something to the effect of: ‘well ...more
Ian Chadwick
Oct 15, 2013 Ian Chadwick rated it really liked it
I've been reading about the ideas Ryan presents in his book for years, ever since the "junk DNA" in our genome was first announced. It never made sense, in an evolutionary perspective, that we would build a large database of useless information. There's got to be more to it.

With the discovery of mimivirus and pandoravirus, there seem to be new ideas about what viruses are what what role they play in evolution and environmental adaptation. Ryan as, I believe, the right idea: co-evolution.

Good boo
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Sander
Feb 01, 2014 Sander rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
While this book certainly contains interesting information, I have so problems with it: The title and summary led me to believe that it would be about the role of viruses on evolution. However, the second half of the book is, at best, only tangentially related to viruses. Also, several times I had to feeling that the authors was building up to something which then didn't appear. In general I've missed conclusions. I appreciate that this field of research is quite new, but I'd have liked more the ...more
Joseph Masters
Dec 21, 2013 Joseph Masters rated it really liked it
Read this while I was back at school (in 6th form). Fascinating new scientific concept regarding the role of viruses in our evolutionary history - well worth a read for any budding biologists!

Perhaps slightly too speculative - may have been nice to see a bit more scientific 'evidence' in there. It focused just a bit too much on the author's 'journey' and was just a bit too 'story-like' for my liking. However, I guess this is a popular science book after all.
Genetic Cuckoo
Feb 25, 2013 Genetic Cuckoo rated it liked it
Shelves: science
A detailed look at a wide range of ways that viruses have influences the evolution of life on Earth. Highlighting some interesting ideas regarding Epigenetics and Cancer. Certainly recommended reading for anyone studying genetics.
Terry Erle Erle
Apr 08, 2012 Terry Erle Erle rated it did not like it
If ever an author needed a good editor...
Bethany
It blew my mind when I first read that 8-9% of our genome consists of endogenous retroviruses, and when I read about the viral role in developing the mammalian placenta. So I looked for a book that would better explain the history of how viruses (our enemies!) have coexisted outside and inside of us. This kinda did, but it kinda didn't. The structure of the book feels somewhat...incoherent. It hops around a lot. There's not much introductory material, such as a general explanation of viral natur ...more
Colin
Mar 19, 2014 Colin rated it liked it
Let's get this out of the way right now: I absolutely love franks Ryan's books, even if have minor issues with his writing style every so often. It's him I have to thank for my interest in microbiology and my possible future career. But much as I love his stuff, I also have a lot of issues with this book, and I will go through them here if you are considering checking it out and are a fan like me.

The book has a great start, and tackles some fascinating evolutionary questions about the role virus
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Hal Huntley
Mar 17, 2013 Hal Huntley rated it liked it
An interesting book, although one does need at least a good course in biology plus a bit more to keep up with it. The author tries not to be overly technical and he does a pretty good job of explaining the ideas. The importance of the book is showing the research avenues for cancer and autoimmune diseases. I like how he integrated the discussions with other researchers in the field; they clarified some points and made it more interesting.

Two very fascinating discussions were of the elysia chloro
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Alice Luesley
Jul 14, 2014 Alice Luesley rated it really liked it
Although I agree that the book goes a little off tangent it actually suited my interests in medicine (which I would expect as it is written by a medic)
I leant an awful lot from this book and it has lead me to plenty of other books I would love to read and learn from. It's definitely not perfect but I think it a push in the right direction in getting people aware of the different evolutionary processes.
Ângela Maria
Mar 03, 2013 Ângela Maria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
This book will make you think of things you maybe have never considered. As the author said “this is an unusual journey- a new and, I believe, highly original exploration of the genetic and genomic forces that constructed our human genome”.
You will read about retroviruses, how they work, what’s it’s their impact in diseases like AIDS, and many other things. In my opinion this is an important book for the science community.
I will end this review with this quote:
“To paraphrase Jacob Bronowski, it
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Hilary Chan
Aug 18, 2015 Hilary Chan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Truly an exhilarating journey! It feels so good to stand at the frontier of science and to gaze upon the vastness of unknown knowing the answers are out there!
I studied Ecology in university just a year ago and evolutionary theories have been the backbone of my curriculum basically. But still, so many parts of this book are very new to me. I wonder there wasn't any lectures on this topic.
Liam
Aug 27, 2015 Liam rated it really liked it
This book was one of the most enlightening books I've ever read. The author's explanation of genetics is clear and to a great extent, entertaining. It has made me look at viruses and humanity in a completely different light. I have recommended this book to several people.
Elentarri
Jul 04, 2014 Elentarri rated it liked it
Very irritating writing style (too much waffling), but worth reading for the very interesting information and examples - the discussions on the Elysia chlorotica (type of sea slug), the koala and the gender changing fish were very interesting. The author also included diagrams to explain some concepts, which was nice.
Aviv
Apr 06, 2013 Aviv rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
This book is well written, however, even though I am in medicine, I had a hard time keeping up my interest in this book. Dr. Ryan presents some highly interesting and novel material and does an exquisite job of making his case. Unfortunately, as much as I love and am fascinated by all things in medicine and the biological sciences I was unable to read this book for long periods of time. This is a great book, but seemed more like a textbook than a science book written for the mass market. I would ...more
Hannah
Mar 08, 2015 Hannah rated it it was ok
This book is worth the read as the science is quite interesting. However, the writing style is not to my taste and turns this otherwise good book into something less then what it could be.

Furthermore, the title is a little misleading as the author only mentions the effects of viruses on the human genome in the first half of the book, the rest is devoted to other mechanisms that contribute to evolution besides viruses and mutation plus selection. I like the title that he uses in his closing chapt
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Mark
Aug 12, 2014 Mark rated it liked it
Interesting ideas but tough going in places
Pedro
Feb 01, 2013 Pedro rated it liked it
I won this book through Goodreads.

Not bad in the slightest. This book had many interesting aspects to grasp and familiarize with, yet it was able to provide scientific insight on a more common and colloquial level. All in all a decent read.
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Frank Ryan is a consultant physician in the UK as well as being an innovative evolutionary biologist, who has introduced the concepts of aggressive symbiosis to virology, and the concepts of genomic creativity and the holobiontic human genome to the story of human evolution. His major scientific interest has been the pioneering and development of the concept of viruses as symbionts, thus bringing ...more
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