On the Existence of Animal Viroids
This manuscript is an outgrowth of my discovery of the viroid in 1971, which has been endorsed by the International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) as a new order called Subviral Agents, which now consists of two families and upward of 40 species, all isolated from higher plants. Most of these cause diseases of various crops. fruit trees, or ornamental plants. Here I ask the question why, so far, these plant viroids are not complemented by their counterparts in animals. I explain that mostly two forces are probably responsible for this absence: (1) an excessive anthropocentric bias and (2) a refusal by some to recognize the existence of viroids, as well as of the officially endorsed order of subviral agents. Apparently, no significant efforts were made to discover animal viroids. I propose that well planned research be initiated to study whether animal viroids exist and, if so, whether, in analogy to plant viroids, some animal (human) diseases of unknown etiology may be caused by animal viroids---results which would be of obvious importance.