2024-07-14 06:34:39

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Everything you need to know about viruses

Viruses are microscopic parasites that live all around us on our Earth. You will be surprised to know that there are more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the universe!

Unlike other terrestrial life forms, viruses are thought to be neither dead nor alive. These microorganisms have one goal in life - to infect other living things, be they bacteria, animals, or plants.

But where did these infectious agents come from? Well, the history of viruses is a fascinating, albeit obscure, topic for scientists.

No one really knows the answer, although science offers three possible hypotheses.

The Progressive Hypothesis

The progressive hypothesis, as the name suggests, states that viruses have evolved or evolved from smaller, simpler genetic elements.

This theory states that viruses are simply specialized pieces of genetic information. These genetic elements have somehow acquired the ability to come and go on their own in living cells.

Most interestingly, this hypothesis suggests that viruses may come from our own genes. Our genome contains special genes called transposons.

Transposons are also called "jumping genes", which is why they are considered so special. These genes have the ability to move from one place to another in the genome.

What is a Genome? Simply put, the genome is the complete set of genetic instructions for an organism. Each genome contains all the information needed to build that organism and ensure its growth and development.

Transposons are also considered quite selfish. They "want" to be dubbed and given more energy and attention. Like siblings competing for the love of their parents, these genes "want." However, this is not possible, as all genes are necessary for life to flourish.

The ideology behind this theory is that viruses are actually genes that threw a fit because they weren't given enough attention and ran away from home. This is why the progressive hypothesis is also known as the "escape hypothesis".

They were able to leave their cells, form partnerships with certain proteins, and were able to infect other cells together.

Once infected, their DNA/RNA is inserted, duplicated, and processed into the host's genome. They make new copies of themselves and then continue to infect other cells.

RNA viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) act as these transposons.

The Regressive Hypothesis

As the name suggests, this principle is the opposite of progressive. This theory does not claim that viruses evolved and adapted to self-thinking. Rather, it says that they are less parasitic forms.

There are some really big viruses, like the smallpox virus or mimivirus (the world's largest virus). Even though Mimivirus is still 50 times smaller than a strand of hair compared to other viruses, it is a monster!

Such "giant" viruses have led scientists to speculate that viruses may have evolved from highly complex ancestral organisms. These complex ancestral organisms were thought to work together in a symbiotic relationship or symbiosis.

Symbiosis is a close ecological relationship between individuals of two (or more) different species. Sometimes a symbiotic relationship benefits both species, sometimes one species benefits at the expense of the other.

So basically what happened was that over time one organism became highly dependent on another, losing its original genes. Getting rid of these extra genes was an evolutionary decision. There was no need to spend time and effort maintaining genes for replication devices, as the partner did most of the work.

In fact, a perfectly happy symbiotic relationship turned into a venomous parasite, and... voila! Now we have viruses!

Thus, viruses were actually dependent cells that evolved into parasitic viruses. However, instead of taking a step forward, growth took a step back!

The Virus-First Hypothesis

This theory takes a completely different approach. The above two hypotheses are possible only if the cells were present before the arrival of the virus. However, like the eternal chicken and egg debate, we're not really sure which came first.

What if viruses appeared earlier? Evidence has emerged that viruses were indeed the world's first replicative organisms.

Many scientists conclude that since viruses are much simpler than cells, they must have evolved earlier.

Scientists suggest that viruses existed in the pre-cellular world as self-replicating units. Over time, these units became more organized and complex, which eventually led to the formation of cells. Thus, viruses could have existed before bacteria, archaea, or any other form of life.

However, some scientists reject this hypothesis because of one key feature. According to the classic definition of viruses, they require a host cell to replicate. So, how could viruses survive before the advent of cellular life?

No Single Hypothesis may be Correct

Where do viruses come from is not an easy question? It can be argued quite convincingly that some viruses, such as the HIV retrovirus, emerged from a progressive process. Mobile genetic elements were able to travel between cells by becoming infectious agents.

It can also be argued that large DNA viruses arose as a result of a regressive process when once independent entities lost key genes over time and adopted a parasitic replication strategy.

What is Coronavirus and What you should Know About It?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause a variety of diseases. In the current outbreak, a new strain of this virus called "2019-nCov" has emerged that causes symptoms of cold and fever.

How does it spread?

The virus can be spread through contact with infected people or by touching objects used by infected people and then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Where did the current outbreak start?

The current outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

To deal with Coronavirus, the Government of India introduced nationwide quarantine from March 24, 2020. In fact, India was one of the first countries in the world to impose a nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus.

During this time, vital essential services that help people, such as food and medical stores, banks, police stations, and hospitals, continue to operate and remain open. However, the movement of people is restricted to prevent the spread of the virus.

The extent to which people are restricted depends on whether their location falls in the Red, Orange, or Green zones.

Red zones are the areas with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, and the number of cases is doubling rapidly.

Orange zones are areas where there are only a few cases of COVID-19.

Green zones are areas where no case of Kovid-19 infection has been reported for 21 days.

As of mid-May, 1.4 million people worldwide have recovered from COVID-19 infection, and around 24,300 in India!

Why is Social Distancing Important?

Since this virus is highly contagious, it can spread from person to person at a high rate. Therefore, it is necessary to follow social distancing to protect yourself from the virus.

If you need to step out of the house to buy essentials like food or milk, it is important to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people.

What can you do to protect yourself against the virus?

Here are some important things you can do to protect yourself:

What can you do to protect yourself

Finally, the idea that viruses gave rise to life as we know it is a very intriguing possibility. It is possible that modern viruses may have arisen multiple times through multiple mechanisms. It is possible that all viruses originated through a mechanism that has yet to be discovered.

About Author

Jessica is a blogger with a very likeable personality and outgoing nature, making her a very approachable individual for academic assistance. She does not shy away from being a constant source of positivity and encouragement via her compelling articles. She is assisting university students across the United States who are preparing for admission to prominent universities.

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