What this itsy-bitsy virus took from a spider

Story highlights

  • Researchers uncover a snippet of spookily spider-like DNA in a virus
  • The finding sheds light on how viruses could be used for our benefit, experts say

(CNN)You would expect a spider to excel at pulling strings, but in this case, it's a virus that appears to have pulled the strings of widow spiders -- DNA strings, that is.

A husband-and-wife research team at Vanderbilt University in Nashville recently discovered eerily spider-like DNA hidden within an itsy-bitsy virus named WO.
The newfound DNA is somewhat similar to a portion of the gene that makes widow spiders venomous, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications last week.