Viruses are microscopic parasites that infect and depend on a host cell to replicate and spread. They are known to spread quickly in environments where the host organisms are crowded. Notably, viruses are responsible for contagious diseases including measles. However, the question of whether a virus is alive or non-living is controversial. Nevertheless, viruses can be considered to have a life since they display a few qualities that are associated with living organisms.
First,a virus contains either single-stranded or double-stranded DNA or RNA. This presence of genetic materials in viruses is a guarantee that the cells can mutate and change their structures. Furthermore, a virus can inject its genetic materials into host cells and cause diseases such as measles.
Secondly,viruses can reproduce and are sensitive to environments. For example, these “particle” can replicate and increase in number to reach the Minimum Infective Dose (MID).Nevertheless,the presence of capsid in the structure of a virus makes it resistant to harmful substances in the environment.On the other hand, since they are subtle to their surroundings, viruses can detect and attach itself to a host cell. Once attached to the host, they reproduce fast and could cause infections.
Additionally, viruses have a life cycle. For example, a bacteriophage possesses a life cycle involving several processes. The stages include attachment to the host, penetration of the phage DNA into the host cell, synthesis of viral genome and protein, assembly, and release of the synthesized viral cells.However, unlike in other microscopic living organisms, the life cycle of a virus is quite complex and must involve a host cell.The life cycle of a bacteria, for instance, follows the lag phase, log phase, the stationary phase, and death phase, but can complete without a host organism.
Finally, living organisms are mobile as they are capable of moving from one place to another. Similarly, for virus cells to attach, spread, and infect the neighboring cells within the host, they require locomotive potentials. Although the motility of a virus is not independent, the cells are still mobile since they can use host cells for locomotion to accomplish the infection process. On the other hand, non-living things carry out a random motion. Thus, viruses behave more like living organisms than non-living organisms in regards to movement.
In conclusion, viruses are alive as they possess certain characters that are inherent in living organisms. In particular, like other living things, viruses contain genetic materials, can reproduce, and are sensitive to environments. Additionally, viruses have a life cycle and can spread to other cells. These features collectively allow viruses to replicate, cause diseases, and sense changes in the environment.
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