Viruses as prey?
farrlarr at cwis.isu.edu
Thu Aug 31 13:05:07 EST 1995
In article <41shoi$t0g at newsbf02.news.aol.com>, EdRegis <edregis at aol.com> wrote:
>Does anyone know if viruses serve as food for any other types of organism?
> Or are they (relatively) alone in being without natural predators?
As non-living entities, it is highly unlikely that viruses would serve as
"prey" for other organisms.
Having said that, however, let's look a bit closer at the overall
situation. Organisms usually prey on other organisms because the prey
provides energy and molecular building blocks that the predator can
utilize for its own processes (and there is usually some selection for
taste, availability and the likelihood that the prey is more dangerous to
the predator than vice versa). Given that viruses consist of materials
(proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, carbohydrates) that can be degraded to
provide energy and building blocks, there is nothing about viruses per se
that would suggest that they might not be used as "food sources" by other
organisms. However, that uptake by the "predator" would result in the
virus being introduced into a living cell and, given the ability of
viruses to take advantage of cellular processes for their own
replication, might give the virus an opportunity to replicate and
(probably) kill that cell. The possibility that the "predator" might die
as a result of uptake of a presumed food source is obviously not an
optimal foraging strategy for the "predator." Again, it seems highly
unlikely that viruses would serve as "prey" for other organisms.
Larry D. Farrell, Ph.D.
Professor of Microbiology
Idaho State University
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