Archives October 2004

Since the 1960s, scientists have argued About whether viruses are living organisms or just a bundle of very large molecules. Viruses are usually much smaller and simpler than bacteria, consisting simply of genetic material surrounded by a protein coat. A virus has to hijack another organism's biological machinery to replicate, which it does by inserting its DNA into a host. Bacteria, on the other hand, carry ail that they need to reproduce independently, and thus qualify as alive. Mimivirus, the biggest virus in the world has its genome sequenced, and scientists say that, unlike its fellow viruses, it may truly be called 'alive'. Officially, the virus got its name because it mimics bacteria. The virus's genetic sequence also holds clues that may explain the evolution of the very first cells possessing a nucleus of DNA. Although it shows all the trademark features of a virus, the mimivirus is much more more...


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