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Viroids: “living fossils” of primordial RNAs?

Overview of attention for article published in Biology Direct, March 2016
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (87th percentile)

Mentioned by

19 tweeters
6 Wikipedia pages
1 video uploader


31 Dimensions

Readers on

60 Mendeley
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Viroids: “living fossils” of primordial RNAs?
Published in
Biology Direct, March 2016
DOI 10.1186/s13062-016-0116-7
Pubmed ID

Theodor O. Diener


The discovery of the viroid in 1971, which initiated the third major expansion of the biosphere towards smaller living entities-after discovery of the "subvisual" microorganisms in 1675 and that of the "submicroscopic" viruses in 1892-has been officially endorsed by the International Committee on Virus Taxonomy as a new order called subviral agents.In 1989, I proposed that, based on their respective molecular properties, viroids are more plausible "living fossils" of the hypothetical RNA World (widely assumed to have existed prior to the evolution of DNA or proteins) than are intron-derived RNAs, which were, at that time, suggested as putative survivors. There were few citations of my proposal-and virtually none of viroids-beyond plant virology unil 1994, when Cheles-Flores critically examined the hypothesis and pointed out a serious difficulty, as well as a process by which this difficulty could be overcome. In 2013, when investigations by Koonin and Dolja revealed that of extant RNAs, viroids "strikingly" display some of the molecular properties posited for the earliest evolving, selfish RNAs (primordial RNAs), but, because extant organisms, aside from higher plants, appear not to harbor viroids, they cannot be regarded as primordial fossils, but appear to have evolved post LUCA (the Last Universal Common Ancestor). Here, I review whether some evidence nevertheless is compatible with the original postulate of the 1989 hypothesis. My analysis reveals no unequivocal evidence for an ancient origin of viroids, but suggests, alternatively, that viroids may have evolved de novo more recently, probably by novel processes similar to those suggested by each reviewer.These results are important, because they help illuminate a little understood period of abiogenesis-after the abiotic synthesis of life's chemical building blocks, which is, in principle, understood, and before the evolution of DNA and proteins in the late RNA World.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 60 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 60 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 16 27%
Student > Ph. D. Student 11 18%
Student > Bachelor 9 15%
Professor 5 8%
Student > Master 4 7%
Other 8 13%
Unknown 7 12%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 21 35%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 17 28%
Physics and Astronomy 4 7%
Immunology and Microbiology 3 5%
Medicine and Dentistry 2 3%
Other 5 8%
Unknown 8 13%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 14. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 20 January 2022.
All research outputs
of 21,777,067 outputs
Outputs from Biology Direct
of 471 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 280,830 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Biology Direct
of 2 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 21,777,067 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 90th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 471 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 11.0. This one has done well, scoring higher than 80% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 280,830 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 87% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 2 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them