Has the Virus debate been sorted?
There was a debate going on which I had lost track of (been many years now). The debate revolved around the issue of whether a virus was actually a living organism as it performed none of the 7 vital functions when outside the host cell. Anyone can update me?
Re: Has the Virus debate been sorted?
I'll give it a try, with my limited knowledge of this topic. Viruses are generally considered as living organisms, even though they lack many of the properties generally associated with being alive (metabolism, reproduction, cell-based, etc.). For one thing, they do exhibit some properties of living organisms, such as the ability to evolve and adapt. Also, they contain genetic material and are able to reproduce through the host they infect. Finally, they are a lot more complex than non-living matter and are able to cause an infectious process in a host. The latter is a property shared by prions, which makes these even more problematic than viruses, but that is a matter for another thread.
I think scientists keep considering viruses as living organisms because they aren't sure what to make of them, but they seem to have just a little more in common with living organisms than with non-living matter, although there are somewhat on the fence.
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