Viruses: Living or Non-Living? I think that viruses are living, because even though they don’t technically qualify as having all six unifying principles of life, it has enough of them for it to be considered alive. For some of the traits that it misses, it has some other type of trait that is close to the characteristic that it is missing. The six unifying principles of life that we discussed in class are evolution, homeostasis, EMO, reproduction, growth and development, and ecological relationships. Viruses evolve.
Viruses are like bacteria in the way that they evolve.They have mutations in their DNA that allow variations among offspring and survival in those that have useful variations (adaptations). Viruses have adapted and become immune to certain treatments and antibiotics that have been used over the years to try and kill them. The HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) has adapted over the years and become immune to treatment. Many people with this virus are not able to be cured because their type of the virus is rejecting treatment. Do viruses maintain an internal balance (homeostasis)?I don’t know the answer to that question.
I don’t think that viruses can perform any cellular activities because they are not a cell or made up of cells. Viruses function fine without homeostasis, so maybe homeostasis is not exactly required for something to be alive. Viruses do have EMO (energy, matter, and organization). A virus’s energy source is its host. It attaches to a host and feeds off of it to stay alive and “reproduce.
” A virus is made out of matter, but it isn’t organized into cells like other organisms.All viruses’ bodies are organized into a head made out of a protein shell that contains DNA, a tube allowing the DNA to travel into the host cell, and “landing gear” that allows the virus to land on the host. Viruses do reproduce, just not in either of the more common ways of reproduction. Instead of sexually or asexually reproducing, a virus injects its DNA into its host cell and then commands that host cell to make more copies of the DNA. The host cell stops whatever it is supposed to be doing and obeys the virus DNA. The host cell makes copies like a factory makes toys.There is no juvenile state of virus, it just copies the DNA and a new virus appears.
When there are enough virus copies, the virus particles burst out of the host cell and are released into the host’s body. The host cell often dies. Because the viruses are now free in the host’s body, they take over other cells and the process keeps going. The viruses take over the body or are stopped by some sort of treatment/medication (this does not happen often). Viruses don’t grow and develop. As I stated before, viruses are made by the host cell the same way a factory manufactures something.It does not grow and learn the way that all other living things do. It is just copied as a “full-grown” virus particle.
This is one of the six traits of life that viruses do not possess. Viruses are involved in many ecological relationships. Viruses attach to a host cell and then take over that cell’s nucleus and force it to create more copies of the virus’ DNA/RNA.
The virus particles affect the host very much. Many times, the host cells die because of the viruses bursting out of them. In a human, this is the time that you would start to feel the effects of a virus such as a cold.The cells in your system would start to die and your immune system would be attacked by the virus particles. Viruses have ecology with their host cells. I would place viruses into the Protist Kingdom because that is the “grab bag” of all the kingdoms.
Since viruses only have four out of the six characteristics of life, I didn’t think that the virus species really fit into any of the other kingdoms. That is why I put viruses into the Protist Kingdom; it is the kingdom for the sort of “misfit” species. If viruses weren’t able to be placed in this kingdom, I would make them their own kingdom, but I think that the Protist kingdom would work fine.