Biology Essays

Are Viruses Alive?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the function and organization of a virus. It acts like a living organism, yet is it really? Keep reading to find out! 😉

One way to determine if something is alive is by the three R’s and the big O. the R’s stand for:

  1. Reproduction: Can it reproduce offspring?
  2. Respond: Can it respond to changes in its surroundings?
  3. Refuel: Is it able to replenish its energy?

The Big O Stands for: Organization. Does it perform in an organized manner and is it able to function in an efficient way?

If an organism passes these basic questions, it can be determined that it is alive. Let’s apply the three R’s and big O to what we know about viruses.

Virus Reproduction: How does a virus reproduce? First, the virus must enter a host cell where it then transmits its genome (genetic information) into the bacteria’s DNA. This prompts the cell to reproduce with more infection; and the newly created viruses leave the cell looking for other cells to infect.

Some people would argue that this process proves that viruses are alive because they can reproduce, but it doesn’t really. The virus can not survive without a host cell to prompt the creation of new viruses. without the host cell, this process is impossible for the virus to perform on its own.

Respond: viruses are able to respond to conditions and signaling inside a cell and perform necessary functions that are prompted by that signaling. So far we have determined that viruses cannot reproduce on their own, but they are able to respond to their environment.

Refuel: Viruses are not capable of refueling on their own. They do not possess both RNA and DNA within themselves. There is always only one of them present inside the virus. Because of this, they cannot make their own DNA or metabolize energy. In this way, viruses are deficient.

The Big O: Is a virus capable of organization? Actually, the virus is very organized and uniform. They basically self-assemble on their own. Protein components are able to combine correctly without help. Viruses also work in unison and are efficient as well as deadly in the spreading of their virus.

Conclusion: As you can see, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the question about viruses being alive. What can we conclude from all of this? Well, viruses are not able to perform all of the three R’s, but they can perform the big O. I do not believe that viruses are living organisms because they are not able to perform all of the functions necessary for life. How can something be alive if it can not reproduce or provide energy for itself?

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed! 🙂

 

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