Tags

, , ,

 

(Three-minute read) 

 


No, I am not talking about a computer virus, but viruses that do not discriminate whether you are a robot or not.  
Viruses are by far the most abundant biological entities on Earth and they outnumber all the others put together.

So let’s try and put them into layman’s terms.

They are neither dead nor alive!

They are non-cellular organisms, which are enclosed in a protective envelope or protein coat – capsid and have a nucleic acid core comprising of DNA or RNA.

The presence of spikes helps in attaching the viruses to the host cell.

They do not grow, neither respire nor metabolize, but they reproduce.

They are considered both as living and non-living things.

They are inactive when they are present outside of host cells but become active within host cells. They cause several infections and reproduce within the host cell by using the enzymes and raw materials.

They can be transmitted by several methods, airborne, contaminated water, or food, sexual contact with the infected person, transfusion, biting. 

In a nutshell, a virus is a non-cellular, infectious entity made up of genetic material and protein that can invade and reproduce only within the living cells of bacteria, plants, and animals.

A virus cannot replicate itself outside the host cell. Therefore, it enters and attaches itself to a specific host cell, injects its genetic material, reproduces by using the host genetic material, and finally, the host cell splits open, releasing the new viruses.

Viruses can also be crystallized, which no other living organisms can do.

It is these factors that lead to viruses being classified in the grey area – between the living and non-living. During this stage, they remain dormant, until they enter another host, restarting the cycle all over.

They give us everything from the common cold, influenza, chickenpox, and cold sores to serious diseases such as rabies, Ebola virus disease, AIDS (HIV), avian influenza, and SARS, COVID -19 all caused by viruses.

The ability of viruses to cause devastating epidemics in human societies has led to the concern that viruses could be weaponized for biological warfare. 

Viruses infect all cellular life and, although viruses occur universally, each cellular species has its own specific range that often infects only that species. 

There are billions of them, most unknown.

In the evolutionary history of life, it is unclear where they come from because they have no fossils. However, in evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer, which increases genetic diversity.

They are a life form evolving through natural selection and are found wherever there is life.

They are transmitted from nearly every life form to another.

They are now recognized as ancient and as having origins that pre-date the divergence of life into the three biological domains. ie Bacteria – Archaea -Eukaryote.

I can hear you saying what is the difference from one domain to another.

Fortunately, I don’t have the knowledge or space to answer but below might help. 

Bacteria and Archaea – The Major Differences

Basis Archaea Bacteria
Reproduction and Growth Asexual Reproduction, by the process of fragmentation, budding and binary fission Asexual Reproduction. Eubacteria produces spore to stay latent for several years.
Cell Membrane Pseudopeptidoglycan Lipopolysaccharide/ Peptidoglycan
Metabolism Activity Methanogenesis Autotrophy, Aerobic, and Anaerobic Respiration, Fermentation, and Photosynthesis.
RNA Consists of three RNA Consists of single RNA
Thriving Habitat Can sustain in extremely harsh environment such as oceans, hot springs, marshlands, hot springs, and gut of humans They are generally found in soil, organic matter, earth’s crust, water, bodies of animals and plants, radioactive wastes, hot springs, etc.

There are four different types of viruses:

Animal viruses.

Plant viruses.

Insect virus.

Bacteriophage.

(The virus which infects bacterial cells is known as

bacteriophage.)

And one other that is not yet listed. 

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 5, 2020, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and then on to Phoenix, Ariz.

So here is the Question:

Maybe someone can answer this very confusing question with some layman’s clarity. 

Which came first Bacteria or the VIruses?  

Currently, there are three hypotheses for the origin of viruses, all of which presume either bacteria came first, or they arose at the same time since viruses require a host.

Since viruses do not leave fossils, and their origin goes back to the dawn of life on earth, about 3.5-3.8 billion years ago you would think that they came first, but bacteria were around at the same time. 

They are both the first two branches in the tree of life.

Virus and bacteria share a common ancestor – a fully functioning, self-replicating cell that lived around 3.4 billion years ago, shortly afterlife first emerged on the planet.  

Bacteria became more complex while the virus became simpler as they developed from cells, therefore they should be less diverse because cells would contain the entire range of genes available to viruses.

The biggest difference between viruses and bacteria is that viruses must have a living host – like a plant or animal – to multiply, while most bacteria can grow on non-living surfaces.

Antibiotics cannot kill viruses but they can kill most bacteria and we have spent trillions trying to kill bacteria. 

Hundreds of millions of viruses can be found in one square meter; the same space holds tens of millions of bacteria.

Bacteria are living organisms but opinions vary on whether viruses are.

A virus is an organic structure that interacts with living organisms.

virus is acellular (has no cell structure) and requires a living host to survive and reproduce by injecting their own DNA into the host.

Bacteria are alive. Viruses, on the other hand, hang around outside the body for hours, even days till the get the opportunity to become alive. 

It is unlikely the debate over which evolved first; viruses or bacteria will ever be settled. Because the history and the proofs of origin have faded with time.

So infections caused by harmful bacteria can almost always be cured with antibiotics and some viruses can be vaccinated against, most, such as HIV and the viruses which cause the common cold, are incurable.

The only virus that man has particularly partially conquered to date is Polio, Measles, and Chickenpox. The rest some of which you will never hear off are Ebola, Zika, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Marburg hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever, MERS and SARS coronavirus diseases, Nipah and Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya, Thrombocytopenia, Smallpox, and the new contender Covid-19. 

Are all killers. 

So let’s get to the point.

I have often wondered with us spending trillions on killing bacteria does bacteria passed on its mutations to mutating Viruses.

We told to wash our hands with soap because it dissolves the fat membrane of a virus killing it– or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.

Now I am not advocating a Donal Dump that we should be all shallowing Parazone that kills all known cling on’s.

 Most bar soaps are considered harmless (nontoxic) and most people usually recover after swallowing soap. We swallow millions of capsules in our lifetime so why not a soap capsule.  

We are still in an arms race against many diseases, but we stand at a unique period in human history where it’s possible to imagine a day when we have conquered the disease. 

Here’s a quote from “The Matrix”  It’s from Agent Smith (An entity the “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure.”

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.