Ok so I'm studying for a ridiculously boring class, and I came across a line in our power point that said viruses are NOT living.
I know I've heard people say that before (maybe my doctor?) but it struck me as odd. Viruses are made of DNA, RNA, protein. Doesn't that in itself make viruses alive?
After a little research, I found that the question of whether viruses are alive is a debated topic. Due to the fact that it has no cellular components, its inability to replicate itself unless in a host cell, and lack of metabolic properties, many scientists/doctors have concluded that it is not living. Isn't that a bit rigid? In the past 100 years we have discovered a huge amount of information pertaining to genetics, evolution, etc that has greatly altered our understanding of the process of living. My problem is that some schmoe decided that in order to be alive you needed cellular components. Some other guy decided that because antibiotics can't kill viruses, and the name antibiotic comes with the assumption it kills life, then viruses cannot be alive.
I say antibiotic is a misnomer, and I also think that viruses should be considered alive. Some doctors have no problem saying that you can "kill viruses" right?
There are theories that viruses used to have cellular components that could survive without a host, but evolved so that it needed a host cell to survive. I don't know why little things like this irk me so much, but I can't grasp how the science field can prove that arbitrary definitions are meaningless and then turn around and take some rigid definition of "living" and decide that something made completely from the building blocks that create organic matter is non-living. It moves, interacts with its environment, and can make copies of itself. Is there something I'm missing?
I feel like this could potentially be an important hurdle to jump, due to the studies about how viruses affected the evolution of life.
On a side note, I stumbled across horizontal gene transfer in the process of this research, and I can't believe how interesting it is. I don't know how anyone could even question evolution after learning about this stuff. I know a lot of you guys are probably schooled well on HGT, but genetics is an unstudied area for me, so I find it amazing.