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Viruses as Organisms

Tue Jan 23 03:10:15 EST 1996

> From:          bap at med.pitt.edu (Bruce Phillips)
> Subject:       Viruses as Organisms
> Date:          22 Jan 1996 08:43:41 -0800

> 	It seems to me that the ability to distinguish viruses from plasmids, 
> i.e. whether both or neither are organisms, is a bit thornier than I had
> heretofore considered.  Both plasmids and viruses are capable of self-
> distinguish plasmids from viruses, but providing a definition of viruses
> to students that distinguishes them from plasmids, should one care to do 
> that, is more difficult than I had formerly conceived.

Perhaps the simple inclusion of Luria et al.'s qualifier - 
"...potentially pathogenic" - serves to distinguish them adequately.

(As in: "Viruses have been defined as [potentially pathogenic]
entities whose genomes are elements of nucleic acid that replicate
inside living cells using the cellular synthetic machinery, and cause
the synthesis of specialised elements [virions] that can transfer the
genome to other cells" S Luria et al., Virology, 3rd Edn)

                     Ed Rybicki, PhD  
      Dept Microbiology     |  ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za   
   University of Cape Town  | phone: x27-21-650-3265
   Private Bag, Rondebosch  |  fax: x27-21-650 4023
      7700, South Africa    |   
    WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html      
"And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you"

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