Is a virus a living organism?

Is a virus a living organism?

Are Viruses Alive?

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answers (3)

Answer 1
March, 2021

“What are you interested in?”

There is no “life as such”. There is "what we have decided to consider life." Depending on your goals, viruses can be considered alive or not.

I personally prefer to consider alive what obeys the laws of biology and can be investigated by its methods. Viruses obey these laws and succumb to these methods, therefore, they are alive.

Answer 2
March, 2021

On this matter, agreement between scientists is still not reached. There is a certain set of features, the presence of which determines the belonging of an object to the living world, some of these features are present in viruses, the other part is absent.

What makes them related to the living world? Viruses are capable of reproduction, albeit with the help of a host cell. Viruses are able to evolve (some viruses mutate at an inhuman speed, which is why, for example, we have to vaccinate against the influenza virus every year, so there is still no vaccine against HIV).

However, viruses are not inherent in metabolism: they have no metabolism or energy. Viruses are unable to perceive and respond to environmental signals.

Another fundamental difference between living and non-living is the ability to move. But here I, frankly, do not know whether virologists interpret the ability of viruses to penetrate the cell membrane inside as movement (passive transfer of the virus in space during, say, sneezing as movement, of course, is not considered).

Outcome: HZ. So far, consensus on the position of viruses in the living-non-living system has not yet been reached, with which, in fact, I started. Perhaps, over time, the criteria for the living will be slightly revised and finally decided on this issue. In the meantime, the intrigue remains)

Answer 3
March, 2021

Viruses have the simplest form of life on the verge of living and inanimate matter. Outside the cell, they do not exhibit living, so to speak, properties, i.e. there is no metabolism, no growth, no food is consumed and no energy is produced.

They differ from the inanimate in that they can reproduce, but this happens in the cell. Having penetrated into it, the virus changes the metabolism in it and directs the cell's activity to the production of viral proteins and nucleic acid. In the end, the cell dies, the membrane is destroyed and the viruses leave it.

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