It is known that viruses contain DNA or RNA- either one and not both.

I came across a question: Which virus contains both DNA and RNA?

  • $\begingroup$ RDHV virus. science.opposingviews.com/… First google search result. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ @GerganaVandova There is RNA "contamination" in genomes of complex organisms too (dx.doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.3259). This is said to cause genomic instability. However, this is different from what OP is asking. I am not sure if the link you mentioned is trustworthy. I generally do not believe in science blogs. My guess is that it (if it really is true) is something like a RNA contamination in DNA because of a non-selective polymerase. $\endgroup$
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ Here is the real scientific paper:biologydirect.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1745-6150-7-13 $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


Here is the results summary of the study that describes the discovery of DNA:RNA hybrid virus:

Results Bioinformatic analysis of viral metagenomic sequences derived from a hot, acidic lake revealed a circular, putatively single-stranded DNA virus encoding a major capsid protein similar to those found only in single-stranded RNA viruses. The presence and circular configuration of the complete virus genome was confirmed by inverse PCR amplification from native DNA extracted from lake sediment. The virus genome appears to be the result of a RNA-DNA recombination event between two ostensibly unrelated virus groups. Environmental sequence databases were examined for homologous genes arranged in similar configurations and three similar putative virus genomes from marine environments were identified. This result indicates the existence of a widespread but previously undetected group of viruses.

And here is the link to the paper:


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    $\begingroup$ Please forgive me if I'm missing something, but that group of viruses are still only DNA-containing. "...group of circovirus-like DNA genomes whose common ancestor appears to have incorporated a capsid protein (CP) gene known previously only in RNA viruses." They do not have both DNA and RNA; just very strong similarities to a group of RNA viruses. The OP asked if there were/are viruses containing both DNA and RNA. How does this definitively answer the OP's question? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse. You are correct, these viruses contain only DNA as their genetic material. But they also contain this capsid protein found exclusively in RNA viruses. So technically, yes, it is a DNA virus. Evolutionary, it is probably a DNA:RNA hybrid virus. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Can modified vaccinia virus be considered as an RDHV? ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC189881 $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 6:48

Hepatitis B virus (and other hepadnaviruses) have mainly double-stranded DNA genomes, but include a short piece of RNA

Genome: The HBV virion genome is circular and approximately 3.2 kb in size and consists of DNA that is mostly double stranded. ... The other strand, the plus strand, is variable in length, but has less than unit length, and has an RNA oligonucleotide at its 5' end.

--What is HBV?

Unlike others, HBV virions contain both DNA and RNA. Moreover, some regions of the packaged genome can be single stranded, double stranded, or even triple stranded. These peculiar features are a direct result of the HBV genome replication mechanism which will be covered later in this chapter.

--Robert's HBV Page

However, this is just a short piece of RNA that's used to prime genomic replication.


Most virions have either RNA or DNA - never both. The exception to this rule is human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). In 2000, researchers reported that although HCMV contains mainly DNA, it also carries four pieces of RNA that are used to synthesize viral proteins.

Microbiology: An Introduction. Barry L. Batzing

  • $\begingroup$ Can you add a link or an excerpt from the book that really says this? $\endgroup$
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 10:26

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