Are viruses alive?

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Are viruses alive?

Post by scooter »

A deep dive into the complexities of virology, and specifically whether definitions of life should be updated based on the knowledge thereof. :techno:


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Re: Are viruses alive?

Post by scooter »

More information on this topic - specifically about mimiviruses.



Incidentally, that is some nice evening wear for a biology explainer...
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Re: Are viruses alive?

Post by [Dimetrodon] »

The real virus are the infected cells and thus viruses are alive. The "viruses" we commonly talk about are nothing more than spores that corrupt healthy cells.
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Re: Are viruses alive?

Post by scooter »

[Dimetrodon] wrote: Sun Nov 06, 2022 12:31 pm The real virus are the infected cells and thus viruses are alive. The "viruses" we commonly talk about are nothing more than spores that corrupt healthy cells.
Right...in a sense, that is exactly correct. At what point, however, do we say that viruses are "alive"? Certainly they have the requisite genetic material - is that the sole component that is necessary?
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Re: Are viruses alive?

Post by [Dimetrodon] »

scooter wrote: Sun Nov 06, 2022 3:35 pm
[Dimetrodon] wrote: Sun Nov 06, 2022 12:31 pm The real virus are the infected cells and thus viruses are alive. The "viruses" we commonly talk about are nothing more than spores that corrupt healthy cells.
Right...in a sense, that is exactly correct. At what point, however, do we say that viruses are "alive"? Certainly they have the requisite genetic material - is that the sole component that is necessary?
https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/250879
Viruses in their virion form (ie. outside of a host cell) may not go through what we'd normally consider to be living, it's not really abiotic as opposed to streamlined to be extremely parasitic, and the way they take over cells can be pretty complex. Giruses for example even have complicated genomes. It's not just that it happens to have genetic material. It's that it does reproduce, spread, evolve, etc. It just needs to exploit and merge with cells to do so. Sure, it's much more simple than cellular life, but dependence on more complicated organisms for survival is not unique to viruses. It's that from an evolutionary standpoint, why not offload as much as you can to what you're taking over? It allows for sleek, easy to make forms that contain only what is needed for its style of infectious reproduction.

It's the ultimate parasite. Interestingly enough, even viruses are not immune to this, as there are viruses that infect other viruses, like Virophages, which infect giant viruses: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virophage