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What are viruses? How do they differ from other microbes?

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Hint: Virus cannot exist independently and it hacks the replicative machinery of target cells to multiply and maintain their population.

Complete answer:
- A virus is an infectious microscopic organism that can replicate only when it is inside a cell of a living organism. Viruses are known to infect a variety of different living organisms from plants to animals and even other microbes like bacteria. Upon infection to another organism, the virus enters the cell and forces the host cell to rapidly produce many identical copies of the original virus. This process helps the virus to reach maximum cells resulting in increased infection. The infection may result in an increased immune response which enables the body to fight against the infection. When not infecting other cells, the virus may be present independently and are known as virions.

- The viruses are the microscopic organisms that have a parasitic nature and reflect both the characters of living and non living organisms. They grow and reproduce in other cells and cause harm to the infected organism. The virus contains genetic material in the form of DNA or RNA, which help them to replicate inside the host cell.

- The other microbes like bacteria, algae, protozoans show various different characters than that of viruses. The virus shows both the characteristics of living and nonliving organisms but other microbes like pathogens, bacteria etc. doesn’t show this type of characteristics.

- The viruses are covered with a protective protein coat, called capsid, unlike bacteria which contain cell walls. The bacteria can survive even without a host, however, a virus cannot survive without a living cell. In most of the cases, the viruses replicate to make hundreds of copies until they burst and die.

- The size of a bacteria or other microbes is larger than a virus.

Hence, viruses are quite different in nature and mode of action than other microbes like bacteria, protozoa, algae etc.

Note: Both the virus and other microbes can contain genetic material. However, viruses do not stay as an independent living entity as they need a host to survive and replicate.
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