> 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"