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The virus in nature what is its purpose?


Alan McDougall
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Alan

 

The wording of your question sounds almost religious. Not an accusation. I am probably misinterpreting it. Lots of people treat the 'balance of nature' as if it were some mystical truth established by the Goddess Gaea or something.

 

There is, of course, nothing mystical or religious about it. It is simply the equilibrium that forms when a whole bunch of influences interact. The final result is just like a maths sum. A+B-C/D = ??? The various organisms each have their own impact, and the final result is called the balance.

 

Bearing this in mind, you need to realise that nothing has to have a 'role' or a positive impact. All the components of the balance of nature are simply organisms. Some have an impact that can be called useful, and some harmful. Add another organism, and the balance shifts. Remove an organism and the balance shifts in a different direction.

 

So do viruses have a role? Depends on how you look at it. Because they are such efficient little killers they work to reduce the population size of some organisms, preventing them dominating, and allowing others to survive - thus increasing biodiversity. In fact, they become much more effective at their trade of slaughter if their target grows in population size.

 

In the ocean, each cubic centimetre of sea water contains 100,000,000 virus particles, which gives an indication of how important they are. Their impact on ecologies, for good or ill, is massive.

 

From my own selfish viewpoint, I wish I could point a magic wand at them and wipe them out. Coming down with virus illnesses is such a pain.

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Skeptic,

 

Please I did not want to wallow in relgious mud by assuming some malignant malicious god created these little follows.

 

I have read that viruses might have a role in the process of evolution. Such as changing DNA occasionally in a positive or negative direction.

 

Your thoughtful comments are much appreciated, Thank you!

 

 

 

 

I wish I could point a magic wand at them and wipe them out.

 

Coming down with virus illnesses is such a painon

 

I agree

 

Regards

 

Alan

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I've heard a theory that viruses can increase our genetic variability. Retroviruses can insert a copy of themselves into our DNA. In fact, I believe most of our DNA is retroviral in origin. In this way, they can add genetic variability of a different sort than regular mutation. I think this is how genes from snakes ended up in some mammals. Whether the overall benefit of this has been more important than the cost of disease I cannot say. In any case, now that we can do genetic engineering we have no need for the retrovirus' crude tinkering.

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Mr Skeptic is correct about retroviruses. However it needs to be said that most of the nucleic acid material placed into a higher organism's nucleus by retroviruses is 'junk' DNA. It may or may not have a significant role in evolution. That is poorly understood.

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I've heard a theory that viruses can increase our genetic variability. Retroviruses can insert a copy of themselves into our DNA. In fact, I believe most of our DNA is retroviral in origin. In this way, they can add genetic variability of a different sort than regular mutation. I think this is how genes from snakes ended up in some mammals. Whether the overall benefit of this has been more important than the cost of disease I cannot say. In any case, now that we can do genetic engineering we have no need for the retrovirus' crude tinkering.

 

There's an excellent article that goes in depth with this which can be found here:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/03/071203fa_fact_specter

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According to an article in New Scientist magazine:

 

Leukaemia virus may protect against stomach cancer

 

A VIRUS that occasionally causes leukaemia may have a good side.

 

People in Kamigoto, Japan, have high rates of infection with human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1), which can cause leukaemia. They also seem unusually free of stomach cancer, despite being no less likely than other populations to be infected with the bacterium that can trigger the disease.

 

When Satohiro Matsumoto of Narao Hospital in Nagasaki compared 500 residents carrying HTLV-1 and 500 free of the virus, 7 per cent of those who were virus-free developed stomach cancer, about three times the incidence in those with the virus (The Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol 198, p 10). While many bacteria are good for us, this is the first known case of a beneficial virus.

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does the virus have any postive use in nature?. How does this suicidal little killer fit in with the balance of nature.

 

I wish I could point a magic wand at them and wipe them out

 

However it needs to be said that most of the nucleic acid material placed into a higher organism's nucleus by retroviruses is 'junk' DNA.

 

just as I thought these nastly blighters are of liitle use.

 

 

 

Are viruses and trolls considered homologous?:)

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Hello,

 

As a non- medical man I have often wanted to ask the medical profession does the virus have any postive use in nature?. How does this suicidal little killer fit in with the balance of nature.

 

There is no "balance of nature". Basically, viruses can earn a living by coopting the machinery of cells to make copies of themselves. They can reproduce that way. The "purpose" of any living being is to earn a living and reproduce. Viruses do that. I think what bothers you is that viruses are viewed as a "disease" while most other species are not.

 

Not all viruses kill their hosts. In fact, there is co-evolution of viruses and hosts so that the virus is less deadly. After all, a virus that kills the host creates a problem for itself: the source of its metabolism is dead and the virus will die.

 

So viruses evolve to be less deadly. In humans, many became childhood diseases: whooping cough, measles, etc. The influenza virus does not kill its host; neither does the cold virus.

 

Retroviruses can insert a copy of themselves into our DNA. In fact, I believe most of our DNA is retroviral in origin.

 

No. About 10% of our DNA is ALU repeats, which are transposons. They may, originally, have been a retroviral insertion but they have propagated on their own since then. Otherwise, very little of our DNA is due to retroviruses and, as someone pointed out, most of that is non-coding DNA.

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Just to be pedantic, whooping cough is a bacterial infection.

Anyway, I have no objection to Alan seeking a second opinion. It's just that it he refered to some of the answers he had already received, it might have saved others the bother of posting the same points.

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  • 2 months later...

While a virus doesn't seem to have a positive use. I don't agree with virus having positive effect unless the after effects of how not to go overboard with man made antibiotics and to stick with ancient plants that have been proven over centuries reveals as the repelling force against viruses again and again. But a scientist must get a boost of self confidence when he or she becomes a problem solver and learn to study and eradicate a microscopic bad guy. So a psychological and or spiritual benefit might be possible. As well as a scientific herbal understanding. Since herbs eradicate them best without becoming mutated.

 

I doubt a virus has a purpose since it is a mutation of some sort.

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