Over the last few years, there have been quite a few movies based on comic books and several have been standouts. One of the most successful franchises is known as…

avengersTHE AVENGERS

This team has saved the planet countless times both on page and silver screen. History has shown they work best when together, but the members do have a habit of splitting up on their own. When they do, the outcomes are not as spectacular nor as Earth-changing, but they do leave a wider impression on the people and sometimes, can help make a spin-off superhero movie a success.

I digress…

The concept of splitting up is not all that uncommon on an evolutionary basis. Higher order animals do this regularly especially in horror movies and…

Split-UpScooby-Doo Episodes

Not to mention, bacteria have been doing this for as long as they have been around.

biofilmSplitting Up For Form Biofilms

But this trait never has been seen in animal viruses. This should make sense as these biological entities are designed to act as individuals, not as a team. The components need to stay together in order to survive.

Yet, thanks to a recent discovery, that viral view may change…

A Virus That Splits Up

What you are looking at are images of a single virus species, known as Guaico Culex virus, or GCXV. It was recently discovered in mosquitoes (Culex) in Trinidad (Guaico). The different colours, much like the markings of the Avengers, happen to be different segments of the virus’s genetic code. As you can see, they are scattered all over the place.

When you group the photos together, you end up with something like this…

gcxv-infectiousAn Examination of All Segments

Look for any cells appearing brown. These have all the segments of the virus and are unfortunately doomed. The green, orange, and blue cells, are going to survive even though they contain some of the segments. That is, until the brown ones burst and spread segments all over the place.

While the finding is remarkable from an evolutionary perspective, the reason behind this phenomenon may not be as easy to deduce. Even the researchers who discovered the trait weren’t quite sure why this virus seems to split up.

There is, however, one theory and it has to do with something the Avengers enjoy exploiting…

hulk-lokkiHULK SMASH!!!

Numerous segments of the virus, much like members of the Avengers, head out in search of enemies to defeat. When they have found the targets, they engage. However, the superhero may not have enough power, energy, somersaults, arrows, whatever, to win. Same goes for the virus. It just doesn’t have all the machinery to kill. But then along comes the Hulk to save the day, usually with a good smash. In the same way, the other viral segments show up and eventually, the virus survives.

While this premise is still a theory, there is at least one factor the virus doesn’t need to worry about when it comes to assembling…

hulk-thorOnly The Hulk Smashes Indiscriminately

If you want to read more on the GCXV discovery and the fascinating mechanism of splitting up, you can find the entire article here: A Multicomponent Animal Virus Isolated from Mosquitoes

 

 

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