Explaining why viruses are regarded as being biological important

Explaining why viruses are regarded as being biological important Grade 11 Life Sciences:


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Imagine viruses as tiny, super-microscopic “hitchhikers.” They’re so tiny that you can’t see them with just your eyes; you need a microscope. Now, these little guys are pretty interesting because they are sort of like life’s copycats. They can’t do much on their own, but once they hitch a ride inside a living cell, like one from a human, plant, or animal, they can become active and start to do things.

Here’s why Viruses are biologically important:

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  1. They’re everywhere: Viruses are all around us, in the air, water, soil, and in every living thing. They’re a big part of our world.
  2. Nature’s balance: Viruses play a role in nature’s balance. They can keep the numbers of bacteria and other organisms in check. This might sound a bit mean, but it’s important for the balance of different life forms on Earth.
  3. Helping science: Studying viruses has helped scientists learn a lot about how life works. For example, by studying viruses, we’ve learned how our genetic material (DNA and RNA) works, which is super important for understanding life itself!
  4. Medical advances: Viruses can be bad news when they cause diseases, but they also help in medicine. Scientists use them to develop vaccines and to understand how to fight different diseases.
  5. Genetic exchange: Sometimes, viruses can carry bits of genetic material from one organism to another. This can lead to changes in the organism, and sometimes these changes can be beneficial. It’s like nature’s way of mixing things up a bit.
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So, even though viruses can be a bit scary, especially when they make us sick, they are also super important in understanding life, maintaining nature’s balance, and even helping us advance in science and medicine. They’re a tiny, but mighty part of our world!

Did you know? Viruses are not placed in The 5 Kingdoms of Life because they display some non-living as well as living characteristics.

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Key Exam Terminologies for Viruses Studies you should know

  • Capsid a protein coat surrounding the nucleic material of a virus
  • Acellular non-cellular
  • Obligate parasite obligate = forced; a parasitic organism that cannot complete its life-cycle without exploiting a suitable host (if an obligate parasite cannot obtain a host it will fail to reproduce)
  • Host an organism that harbours a parasite
  • Pathogenic an organism that causes disease
  • Bacteriophage a type of virus that infects bacteria; the word “phage” means to eat”
  • Nucleoid an irregularly shaped region within the cell of a prokaryote that contains all or most of the genetic material
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4 Reasons why Viruses are considered to be biologically important

Four reasons why are viruses biologically important:

  1. Viruses cause diseases and are said to be pathogenic. In humans, viruses are responsible for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Covid-19, poliomyelitis, chickenpox, herpes and influenza.
  2. Viruses are useful in the study of genes. Viruses have either DNA or RNA which is surrounded and protected by an outer protein coat or capsid. All other living organisms have both DNA and RNA.
  3. Viruses affect the evolution process of the organism they use as a host.
  4. Viruses play an important global role in the recycling of nutrients through food webs
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