Virus – An Enigma of Life? Part II

info Sep 18, 2021

Can viruses live? The answer is yes. They are the master geneticists of the planet. We are more than just the host to their viral diarrhea; we are the nutrient-filled buffet.


Did you know that viruses are genetic replicators? That is to say they copy themselves into double-strand transcripts that can be used to replicate themselves (hence the virus). Viruses are tiniest of all micro-organisms; however they are the most important of all bioresources. They are the master geneticists of our planet – though that is still an area of great scientific dispute; they are simply packets of viral information. Some carry this genetic code in single-stranded RNA, others in long double chains or in living DNA.

All but the smallest virus’ genetic material replicate by the means of a genetic replication reaction. This means that all living organisms, plants and animals are built with genetic instructions that produce them. And all living organisms reproduce this way. In the case of viruses this reproduction involves the use of viral proteins (or their nucleic acids) and DNA encodements to make copies of themselves.

However there is one problem. A virus is unable to duplicate itself if it is too large. So even though a large virus might be able to reproduce (by dividing into many, if it is too big it would kill its host cell before being able to reproduce by itself. Now viruses have come into play lately with the release of various kinds of ‘zombie virus’ for the purpose of controlling and manipulating living organisms, cells and animals.

The viruses that are able to replicate themselves are not really viruses at all, but are much smaller versions of bacteria. There is an example of this occurring every day, and that is with the common cold. When we get sick, we generally take medicine to treat the illness. In many cases this medicine can have side effects that can be quite harmful to our health. But in this case instead of the body being made worse by taking a drug, it becomes more balanced by the creation of healthy bacteria to replace those that were damaged by the medicine.

As time goes on, these kinds of viruses become even more dangerous because of their ability to modify their host genome (the code within the genome). They can insert new genetic material that can invade the host genome and make it even more ill. With this ability, a virus that was once safe and sound can now potentially harm us through the introduction of potentially harmful viruses into the immune system. This is just one of the concerns with using genetics and viral microbes for human purposes. Please consider all this.