definition of life

suter at VAX.MPIZ-KOELN.MPG.d400.de suter at VAX.MPIZ-KOELN.MPG.d400.de
Fri Feb 11 11:58:49 EST 1994


larry marshall wrote:

+>viroids are lifeforms, whereas single body cells, red blood cells, mRNA
+>aren't.   
+
+Really?  Do these not use nucleic acids to store replicating information
+and maintenance information?  That's the very problem with these sorts
+of definitions; they imply no organization of the biochemistry into 
+what we point at and say "life".

sure they contain DNA, but so do many of my eppendorfs. however, these
cells use this dna for maintanance only, whereas a true lifeform uses 
it also to pass on to offspring, enabling evolutionary continuity.
thus, the mere presence of dna is not enough, there must be a machinery
(nucleic acid encoded !) that enables replication and so on. 

your body cells may be alive (they breath
and feed and move and so on, even the dna is transcribed and mRNA is
translated) but they are no independent lifeforms, because they have
lost the ability to create offspring.

but still, there is no 'continuous' lifeform that doesn't contain a
nucleic acid, is there ?
 
clemens
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Clemens Suter-Crazzolara, PhD
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Zuechtungsforschung
Abteilung Genetische Grundlagen der Zuechtungsforschung
Carl-von-Linne Weg 10,        D-50829 Koeln, Germany
Tel.xx49.221.5062-221    Fax.-213      e-mail: suter at vax.mpiz-koeln.mpg.d400.de
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