Living virus?

Lars Andrup andrup at INTERNET.DK
Mon Aug 24 08:13:44 EST 1998

-----Original Message-----
From:	Trond Erik [SMTP:teva at online.no]
Sent:	Monday, August 24, 1998 7:10 AM
To:	bionet.microbiology mail newsgroup
Subject:	Living virus?


I know that virus is not a living organism, but is it still normal to
refer to a functionable virus as "living"?

The reason for this question is some quotas I've read in newspapers.
It's about the danger of finding intact and active virus in a 80 year
old grave containing corpses who died of a disease caused by this virus.

Commenting on this risk, many scientists referred to such viruses as
"living". It struck me as strange to call a biological robot as being
alive, just as strange as calling my car living when it's not broken, or

my computer living when it's not crashed.

Trond Erik Vee Aune

Dear Trond Erik,
Well, it's a matter of definition - you can say that a virus, like a spore
or seed, has the potential of reproduction given the right conditions.
However, if a virus is defined as "alive" you may have to include other
genetic elements like plasmids and transposons which also have the potential
to reproduce.

Maybe there is a continuous spectrum between living and non-living.

It was easier when a living thing was moving or growing...



***************** ooo 000 ooo **********************
Lars Andrup, senior researcher
National Institute of Occupational Health
Lersø Parkallé 105
DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
phone: +45 3916 5223
fax: +45 3916 5201
e-mail: andrup at internet.dk
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