Why Viral Nucleic acid (Genome) is unique?

By Acharya Tankeshwar •  Updated: 05/05/22 •  1 min read

During high school, you might have learned two very basic rules about nucleic acid: DNA and RNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a double-stranded molecule, i.e. it consists of two strands of DNA bound together and RNA is a single-stranded molecule.

DNA and RNA Structure
DNA and RNA Structure

But this rule may not hold true in the case of viruses. Viruses are the only creatures that have genetic material composed of single-stranded DNA as well as double-stranded RNA.

  1. Viruses having double-stranded RNA as their genome: virus of family Reoviridae (Rotavirus, Colorado tick fever virus) and Birnaviridae have double-stranded RNA as their genome.
  2. Virus having single-stranded DNA as their genome: virus of family Parvoviridae (Parvovirus B-19) possesses single-stranded DNA.

Other unique properties of viral genomes

  1. Viral genomes are either DNA or RNA but not both
  2. Nucleic acid can be either linear or circular
  3. RNA can exist in several pieces. Influenza virus and rotavirus have a segmented RNA genome
  4. Almost all viruses are haploid, i.e. they contain a single copy of the genome with a major exception of retrovirus family which is diploid (have two copies of their RNA genome).

Acharya Tankeshwar

Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. I am working as an Asst. Professor and Microbiologist at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal. If you want me to write about any posts that you found confusing/difficult, please email at microbeonline@gmail.com

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