Interesting facts about viruses


Posted on Mar 9, 2022      177


Often in books and movies viruses are presented as some kind of evil collective mind. In fact, it is certainly not so, but the fact is that these organisms are incredibly well adapted to survive in any conditions. They mutate and change rapidly to survive, but not all of them are dangerous or even harmful. However, it is the viral diseases that often become some of the most dangerous, as these microorganisms can adapt in the bodies of various carriers and they sometimes withstand the attempt to destroy them.

Facts about viruses

  • Viruses are not living creatures. Nor are they dead. That’s the funny thing about biology.
  • Viruses don’t have cells, they can’t convert food into energy and without a host they are just clots of chemicals.
  • Plant viruses are harmless to animals, and most animal viruses are safe for humans.
  • According to one hypothesis, cellular life on Earth originated after a virus took root in a bacterium, forming a cell nucleus.

  • It is believed that about 40% of human DNA comprises remnants of ancient viruses that infected the cells of our ancestors at different stages.
  • In 1992, scientists traced the source of a pneumonia that broke out in England - it turned out to be a virus hiding inside an amoeba living in a cooling tower. It was so large that at first scientists mistook it for a bacterium.
  • Some cancers are associated with cancer viruses.
  • A fully formed virus is called a virion.
  • Viruses that are large are called mamaviruses. Their size is often larger than even some bacteria. Such viruses have satellite viruses. Doesn’t that remind you of cosmology, no?
  • Viruses affecting harmful bacteria can even help humans by becoming symbiotic to them.
  • Viruses can help their fellow humans. Researchers recently showed that the smallpox virus, when penetrating a cell, leaves special proteins on its surface. These cause the cell to synthesize special protein “tails”. Other viruses, encountering these “tails”, do not penetrate the already occupied cell, but go in search of those not yet infected. This makes the smallpox virus spread four times faster.
  • Some scientists believe that once, at the dawn of life, viruses and all living things on Earth had a common ancestor.
  • In Australia in the 19th century, the rabbit population exploded. This led to the destruction of many plants in this vast area. For decades, people and scientists fought rabbits, but there was no success. In the mid-20th century, the rabbit population was brought under control thanks to a virus called myxomatosis, which led to their decline.
  • Today, there are over 2,000 known variants of the influenza virus, which differ from each other in their antigenic spectrum.
  • There are two types of viruses: DNA-containing and RNA-containing.

  • Viruses are the most many biological objects on Earth, and they outnumber all living organisms combined.
  • Amoebas are a kind of sandbox and free canteen for viruses - they absorb large objects within their reach and are a source of nutrients for bacteria, which exchange genes with other bacteria and viruses inside the amoeba.
  • Although viruses are sort of not alive, they reproduce, and they have genes and natural selection.
  • In Latin, the word “virus” means “poison.”
  • People first saw viruses only after electron microscopes in the mid-20th century.
  • Viruses can infect animals, plants, fungi, single-celled organisms and bacteria. Mamaviruses also infect other viruses along with their companion.
  • Many of the formations in our cells are seemingly useless, which is explained because they are viruses that have safely taken root inside us at different stages of evolution.
  • Microbiologists divide viruses into four types according to their shape, but this division is purely external - it allows us to classify viruses as spiral, oblong, etc.
  • Most of the ancient viruses embedded in our genome do not exist in nature today. In 2005, French scientists started work on the “resurrection” of one of these viruses. One virus thus resurrected, codenamed Phoenix, turned out to be non-viable. Apparently, not that simple.
  • Retroviruses have the unique ability to insert genes into human chromosomes. These special viruses have been used as important tools for scientific discovery. Scientists have developed many methods using retroviruses, including cloning, sequencing, and some gene therapy approaches.
  • Braconid wasps inject their victims with a virus that suppresses the victim’s immune system instead of venom. The suppressed immunity allows the parasitic larva to develop inside the victim. Biologists have found out that this virus is more than a hundred million years old and is most likely fused with wasp DNA.
  • Viruses range in size from 20 to 500 nanometers.

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