Are Viruses Alive?
By Bo Howes
The word virus means “poi-son” in Latin. Viruses are submicro-scopic intracellular parasites that consist of either RNA or DNA, and a protective coat of protein. It has caused countless diseases in vari-ous organisms. The term virus was first used in the 1890s to describe agents that caused diseases that were smaller than bacteria. The ex-istence of viruses was established in 1892, when Russian scientist Dimity I. Ivanovsky discovered microscopic particles later known as the tobacco mosaic virus.
Over the years, scientists have debated whether viruses are alive. Some scientists argue that the virus is lifeless. On the other hand, other scientists argue that viruses are lifeforms and should be classified into a kingdom. However, many sci-entists have agreed that things must have seven characteristics of life to be considered alive. The character-istics of life are all living things are composed of cells, all organisms are organized at cellular and molecular
levels, energy use, and response to the environment, growth, reproduc-tion, and adaptation.
From research and observa-tion, scientists have found that vi-ruses can perform some of the life processes. They found that viruses have organization, the ability to re-produce, and adaptations. First, they found that viruses are generally organized and composed of a nu-cleic acid core, either RNA or DNA, surrounded by protein. Next, they found that viruses could reproduce. It does not reproduce by sexual or asexual production, but by injecting its genetic material into the nucleus of a living cell. Finally, they found out that viruses have adaptations. They have the ability to mutate into different strains to resist man-made drugs.
In short, these are some views and facts about the virus. To this day, scientists are still fiercely debating whether viruses are alive. Should we consider them alive since they perform some life processes or simply consider them lifeless?
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