Are Viruses Living?

Ed Rybicki ED at molbiol.uct.ac.za
Wed Apr 26 03:46:33 EST 1995


> That I should be described as Ingeneous! 

Sorry...!  B-)  Make that "ingenious".

The reference I was after is a
> news-and-views article in Science (Amato, I. (1992) "Capturing Chemical
> Evolution in a Jar" Science 255:800) where the work of Julius Rebek
> concerning a self-replicating molecule is described. The molecule is
> J-shaped and catalyses the reaction between a imide ester and "an
> adenine-containing amine pair" to form a new molecule of the original
> molecule. A variation of the reaction conditions can support "mutant"
> molecules with different rates and efficiencies of replication.

Ta - will add it to my course literature.

> The main point that I wanted to make is that there is a difference in
> what we call life among a mouse, a bacterium, a bacterial spore and a
> self-replicating chemical, although they all may fit the criteria in
> some sense.

Undoubtedly - though MY point is that it is all a matter of degrees 
of life, if you like.  Because in fact, most "life" is not 
independent at all, in that it requires precursors resulting from 
other life.  Only some photosynthetic bacteria and some single-celled 
plants could probably truly be called independent.

> As an aside, multicellular organisms form a kind of spores too. The
> brine shrimp _Artemia_ forms a cyst which is a collection of about
> 4,000 cells with no detectable metabolic activity, but which is capable
> of producing a larval shrimp within 24h of the addition of water.  

Fairy shrimp in inland deserts, too.

Ta,




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