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Would a scenario be possible where an existing virus hybridizes with a still-undiscovered virus that previously lived only in geothermal features, such as deep ocean vents, geysers, mud pots, or volcanic craters, to form a dramatically life-threatening disease?

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closed as too broad by Renan, Mołot, JohnWDailey, elemtilas, rek Oct 26 '18 at 3:51

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    $\begingroup$ Viruses don't really hybridize, and aren't strictly alive. Even if you meant bacteria, those aren't usually sexual in their reproduction. $\endgroup$ – John O Oct 25 '18 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ This question is too broad. Please narrow down the parameters you are looking for in order for us to give you a more reasonable answer. $\endgroup$ – Sora Tamashii Oct 25 '18 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ Bactria do do this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacterial_conjugation which is sufficient to count as "hybridisation " by some standards $\endgroup$ – Ummdustry Oct 25 '18 at 20:49
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You can get new virus from a vent, but very hard.

  1. Viruses cannot live in water or mud, they have to live inside living creatures. Outside a living thing, viruses die fast.

  2. "deep ocean vents, geysers, mud pots, or volcanic craters" are lethal to most living things. Creatures that live there are called extremophiles, and it will be hard for a conventional animal or human to get close enough to get infected.

  3. Viruses do not hybridize, b/c they reproduce asexually, but tricking a host's cell into making a copy of themselves. They can mutate, and can get a strand of DNA from another virus if it infects the same cell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus#Genetic_mutation

  4. For this recombination to happen, virus has to jump species between extremophile and conventional animal. Most extremophiles life is simple bacteria:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geyser#Biology

So you need a bacteria that can survive in both the vent, and in the new host. And the host that come close enough to a vent to get infected by bacteria, but survives. And the virus that lives on that bacteria, and can jump species to the host; this is problematic since all human viruses jumped species from verterbrates, not bacteria. B/c viruses kinda specialize on a species, or group of species. So it is very unlikely.

Maybe you can have your plague caused by the vent bacteria itself, not the virus. Maybe the bacteria mutates a human virus. Or maybe your patient zero contracts the mutating virus from a bat during the expedition to a geyser.

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