Characteristics of Viruses and Why they are Not Considered Living Organisms

Viruses refer to infectious agents with both non-living and living characteristics. They can infect plants, animals, and even other micro-organisms such as fungi or bacteria, or even other viruses. Viruses are said to be ubiquitous, and abundant, and they play a very essential role in the health of plants, animals, humans, and protists (Yolles & Frieden, 2022). Viral genes comprise the biggest part of the gene sphere and have possibly been crucial for the planet’s evolutionary life. Viruses are essential high-animal pathogens and the primary cause of mortality. Also, viruses are global geochemical cycles’ drivers, though biological sciences regard them as entities isolated from the realm of life and merely acting as mechanical artifacts which can exchange genes between various phyla, genera, species, and even from a different ecosystem (Shwatha, 2018).

Viruses contain numerous shared characteristics. They contain RNA or DNA genomes, are small, and necessitate intracellular parasites; they need a host to reproduce. The capsid of a virus works to safeguard the nucleic acid from the surrounding, and some viruses have a membrane envelope that surrounds their capsid. Viruses share some living organisms’ traits (Yolles & Frieden, 2022). According to Herrero-Uribe (2011), a living organism can extract energy from the surrounding, and utilize it to conduct all kinds of physical and chemical work, and change energy into the organization. Viruses align with this definition as they utilize all forms of processes and structures of the cell, which is its surrounding, to create organization. However, they also have unique traits that are not found in other living organisms. Viruses are not cells that are regarded as the units of life. They rely on living cells to reproduce and they do not have energy-producing or metabolic machinery. This means they have both living and non-living features. Viruses are regarded as having distinctive traits such as being the main source of genetic innovation. They are also permanently proficient in colonizing their host.

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