Are viruses living or not? Origin and properties


Are viruses living or not? is a very difficult question to understand. The virus has attributes of both living organisms and nonliving objects. Thus it can be considered as both living and nonliving

Origin of Virus

There are two main views on the origin of the virus

  1. A. I. Oparin suggested that complex molecules of different organic substances form a virus during the origin of life. During this process, the proteins are formed in water in the form of colloidal particles which later become the connecting link between the living and non-living and are known as viruses.
  2. Another view suggests that a virus originates from higher microorganisms that have lost the capacity to complete the life cycle. These organisms become parasites and their structures are reduced to very small and simple and later known as a virus.x

The name virus originated from the Latin word “Virion” which means poison. It is the smallest most primitive acellular infectious agent without any wall. They are incapable of living an independent life and multiply only in living cells.

Why the virus is both living and nonliving?

Living Properties of Viruses

  1. A virus has a definite shape and size.
  2. They are obligate parasites and cause diseases in plants, animals, and humans.
  3. It has RNA or DNA as genetic material.
  4. They multiply inside host living cells and are host-specific.
  5. They are sensitive to temperature and chemicals.

Nonliving Properties of Viruses

  1. The virus does not show the respiration process like living organisms.
  2. The virus is crystallized in the form of crystals.
  3. They are inert when present outside a living host and get active when present inside the host.
  4. Cell walls, cell membranes, and cytoplasm are absent in the virus.
  5. Viruses do not show metabolic activity.

Conclusion Are viruses living or not?

Therefore these above features make the virus a unique thing. As per Andre Lwoff ‘, A virus is a virus. It is neither living nor non-living but is a connecting link between the two. Or we can consider the virus both living and nonliving.

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