I'm about halfway through a novel about a very advanced alien civilization that is systematically wiping out other species using engineered viruses.
I am hoping to have the protagonists test samples in order to prove that the viruses have been designed, and then confront the designers, but that's where I need some input. Other than the fact that these are novel diseases that are unique to each species, would it even be possible to identify signs of unknown modifications in an organism - specifically a virus? My hunch is that there would be no way to tell simply by analyzing the genome, but I could be wrong. Apparently our current technology does not allow for this level of identification, but a sufficiently advanced culture might be able to do it. Currently, I am leaning towards explaining this with a lack of junk-DNA in the engineered viruses, or perhaps some specific promoter or terminator that is known to be used by the designing aliens. A clever group of scientists should be able to anticipate these problems, however, and mask them within the genetic code. Any other ideas?
I am a biologist, so hit me with whatever science you like, but I am not an expert in genetics or diseases which is why I would like some feedback.