Bacteria and Viruses?
ED at MOLBIOL.UCT.AC.ZA
Tue Sep 10 05:20:32 EST 1996
> To: mol-evol at net.bio.net
> From: Louis van de Zande <L.P.W.G.M.van.de.Zande at biol.rug.nl>
> Subject: Re: Bacteria and Viruses?
> It is ever so tempting to point to the self-appointed guru that
> things may be not as simple as proposed. So when Rybicki says:
> > Yes...B-)...and Yes and no...but both need qualification. ...
> he is adressing part of the problem and even avoiding a clear answer
> (obviously because there is none). But the worst is yet to come!
But the self-appointed guru is gently pointing out here that things
are NOT as simple as proposed - that is, that "viruses are simpler
than bacteria". So where is the problem? Especially as you point
out that "..he is...avoiding a clear answer (obviously because there
And the WORST is yet to come? Really? Attempting to answer
someone's question on a topic to which I have given much thought, in
a way that I have used in lectures for 16 years, is the WORST?
> > As for being alive: yes, viruses in a cell, actively replicating,
> A virus IN a cell, usually is no longer its former entity, but has
> injected its genome into the cell. Now the genome is the living
> thing? I'm not so sure about that. It all ends up a in definition of
> LIFE. But nobody can give that.
No-one said the genome was alive: in fact, I make a good case in my
undergraduate lectures for NOT considering isolated genomes -
whether they be viral, bacterial, or nuclear - to be alive. I am
saying the "viruses may be considererd to be alive when they are
actively replicating in a cell", which is not the same thing at all.
And as for definitions of life: yes, they can - and have, at length,
in many places. My favourite:
"Life is the phenomenon associated with the replication of
self-coding informational systems".
Chew on that, Louis....
Ed Rybicki, PhD
Dept Microbiology | ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za
University of Cape Town | rybicki at uctvms.uct.ac.za
Private Bag, Rondebosch | phone: x27-21-650-3265
7700, South Africa | fax: x27-21-689 7573
WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html
"Out here on the perimeter, there are no stars..."
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