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Viruses; Genisis and Taxonomy

Craig Kuchocki *Spidey* CJKUCHOC at SCIENCE.Watstar.UWaterloo.CA
Thu Jan 18 23:09:59 EST 1996

AJ Boulay <aj.boulay at utoronto.ca> wrote:
>As a student of biology, I am curious about the replication and 
>classification of viruses.
>I understand that viruses are inert until they infect a host, that they 
>do not undergo replication or division, etc. 
>This leads to my question: How then do viruses proliferate? I can see an 
>infected cell within the host replicating, but is this infected cell 
>considered a "virus"? With this in mind, can viruses be classified as an 
>organism at any time in thier life cylce?

The virus is a free entity until it infects a host.  I was correcting a 
professor last week when she called viruses "organisms" but I failed to 
come up with a suitable term to refer to them by.  Calling them organisms 
is just for lack of better terminology.  When a virus has infected an 
organism and is replicating, it can be considered alive and is classified 
as an organism.

Viruses replicate using the machinery in the host organism.  All the 
components of the progeny are assembled by the host cell (ie. the DNA/RNA 
and amino acids).  They cheat their way through a life cycle in a way.

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