The recent literature on whole genome sequences provides abundant evidence for the action of natural genetic engineering in evolution. Discoveries about natural genetic engineering have coincided with rapid progress in our understanding of epigenetic control and RNA-directed chromatin formation. Special attention needs to be paid to the role of viruses and related so-called "parasitic" elements in the origin of genome formatting and natural genetic engineering capabilities especially the role of non-random genetic change operators in the production of complex evolutionary inventions. These Proceedings of the Symposium “Natural Genetic Engineering and Natural Genome Editing” (3-6 July 2008, Salzburg, Austria) assemble scientists working on genome organization, genome restructuring, genome formatting and virus research to discuss how to integrate these discoveries into the basic understanding of evolution, development and disease.
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