All the more interesting in light of the pandemic:
The truth is, we don’t fully understand viruses, and we’re still trying to understand life. Some properties of living things are absent from viruses, such as cellular structure, metabolism (the chemical reactions that take place in cells) and homeostasis (keeping a stable internal environment).
This sets viruses apart from life as we currently define it. But there are also properties that viruses share with life. They evolve, for instance, and by infecting a host cell they multiply using the same cellular machinery.
Many viruses can cut the DNA of infected cells and intertwine their own genetic material so that they are copied along with the DNA of their host whenever the cell divides. This process is called lysogeny and it can be contrasted with the more destructive lytic strategy of viruses where they multiply in great numbers within a cell, only to burst the cell open and spread out to infect other cells.Hugh Harris, “Are viruses alive? Perhaps we’re asking the wrong question” at The Conversation
What do readers think? Are viruses alive?
Before you go: One way viruses get spread “never should have evolved”
Reset! Different segs of virus genome can exist in different cells but work together
Viruses devolve. (PaV)
Virus expert highlights the conflict over whether viruses are alive In short, it is an open question. The question relates to the role viruses can play in evolution, among other things. Are they precursors of life, detritus of life, or something in between? Or all three? Keep the file open.
Viruses invent their own genes? Then what is left of Darwinism?
Why viruses are not considered to be alive
Another stab at whether viruses are alive
Phil Sci journal: Special section on understanding viruses
Should NASA look for viruses in space? Actually, it’s not clear that RNA came first. Nor is it clear that viruses precede life. A good case can doubtless be made for viruses being part of the scrap heap of existing life. But no matter. If you think you can find viruses in space, boldly go.
Why “evolution” is changing? Consider viruses
The Scientist asks, Should giant viruses be the fourth domain of life? Eukaryotes, prokaryotes, archaea… and viruses?
Are viruses nature’s perfect machine? Or alive?