Using information about Characteristics of Life and Classification of Life answer the following questions:
Which characteristics of life can be used to describe and classify a virus?
two of my post classmates
1 one of them says -“Living characteristics of viruses include the ability to reproduce – but only in living host cells – and the ability to mutate. Nonliving characteristics include the fact that they are not cells, have no cytoplasm or cellular organelles, and carry out no metabolism on their own and therefore must replicate using the host cell’s metabolic machinery.” According to Libretexts Libretexts. (2022, April 9). 10.1: General characteristics of viruses. Biology LibreTexts. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from.
2 and another of the classmates says – While viruses have both living and nonliving characteristics, their non-living characteristics far exceed their living characteristics. Their primary living characteristic is they are able to reproduce. “In order to replicate, viruses must first hijack the reproductive equipment of a host cell, redirecting it to ‘photocopy’ the genetic code of the virus and seal it inside a newly formed container, known as the capsid. Without a host cell, they simply can’t replicate…..Unlike other living organisms that can self-divide, splitting a single cell into two, viruses must ‘assemble’ themselves by taking control of the host cell, which manufactures and assembles the viral components.Finally, a virus isn’t considered living because it doesn’t need to consume energy to survive, nor is it able to regulate its own temperature. Unlike living organisms that meet their energy needs by metabolic processes that supply energy-rich units of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of life, viruses can survive on nothing. In theory, a virus can drift around indefinitely until it contacts the right kind of cell for it to bind to and infect, thus creating more copies itself.” (Smeeton, C. (2021, October 15). Are viruses alive? 3 reasons why scientists say no. Cosmos. https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/why-are-viruses-considered-to-be-non-living/ (Links to an external site.))However, the question of viruses being alive or not is controversial. We are left to question the grey area that defines a living organism. My opinion is that because they do not fit our explanation for what it means to be living, that I cannot consider a virus alive.
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