This article explores the debate on whether viruses are living or non-living organisms. It discusses the characteristics that divide living organisms from non-living organisms and examines how viruses fit into this classification. The article concludes that viruses are essentially non-living organisms with no biological activity when they are crystallized, but on coming in contact with living cells, they exhibit all the characteristics of life, thereby making themselves into a special category and holding a special taxonomical position.
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Virus-Living or non-living?IntroductionVirus is a small sized infectious agent and has a simple composition, deriving its name from a Latin word for “poison”. The viruses can only multiply with an association of a host cell. (Villarreal, L, 2004)DiscussionThere are some characteristics that divide living organisms from non-living organisms. Some of these are as followed:1.Cellular organization: The living things are composed of cells and have an assembly of systematically arranged organs. In unicellular organisms, a single cell is self-sufficient to perform all the necessary functions whereas in multicellular the cells are arranged to formorgans, tissues etc. 2.Reproduction: The living things have the ability to reproduce their progeny and is a vital process for the organisms to survive. The living organisms have genetic material stored intheir reproductive cells so as to produce their progeny. 3.Metabolism: The living things required energy to perform the necessary functions and fortheir maintenance and growth. Viruses:The viruses are considered as a parasite which are characterized as an organisms between life and inert matter. These have proteins, genetic material, nucleic acids and all the other vital components like a living organism but they require a host cell for them to replicate and multiply. However, they cannot synthesize proteins and depend solely on their host for performing all the life-sustaining functions. Furthermore they cannot derive energy on their own. Some of the most
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