All of 2020 and now 2021, we have heard one word on repeat, almost everywhere we go. The term ‘virus’ is so common that it is now infamous to us all. Funnily enough, these dangerous germs are certainly an absurd sight to behold! Who would have imagined the very virus to create a new normal (and this blog too!) resembles some sort of alien device or planet? Today we will take a closer look into these bizarre organisms and why are viruses so weird.
What is a Virus?
A virus is a microscopic parasite that hijacks cells in living things (just like you and me) and takes control of them. Then, it copies itself as many times as it can before it breaks the cell open and lets the new viruses out. These new viruses then find a new cell and do it all over again.
A virus must have:
- A protein coat
- Infectious particles (that can make you sick!)
- RNA or DNA nucleic acid core
Viruses can also have spike protein, a membrane, and many different shapes and sizes.
Types of Viruses
There are 21 different types and classifications of viruses but the most important are the icosahedral, envelope, complex, and helical viruses. Sounds confusing right? Don’t worry, they are a lot more simple than the sound.
An icosahedral is a sphere (here’s the cool bit), but it’s made completely of triangles. These equilateral triangles connect to make a sphere shape. Icosahedral viruses include the Rhinovirus and polio.
Envelope viruses are viruses with a membrane that quite literally envelopes the virus. One example of an envelope virus is the flu or influenza.
Helical viruses are long and tube-shaped, like a slinky when you squash it straight down. In a helical virus, the DNA or RNA is found straight down the middle of the virus. Ebola is an example of a helical virus.
Finally, we have complex viruses. These have a combination of helical and icosahedral shapes such as the bacteriophage. This wacky virus looks like a Mars rover and a spider were put in a blender to create a bacteriophage smoothie! That’s one weird virus!
Why do Viruses have Spikes?
You might have noticed that there are plenty of spikes on all the virus images. A lot of viruses have spike protein, but why?
Imagine that every cell has a door, and each door has a unique key. The spike protein’s purpose is to resemble that key and make it easier to enter the cell. That’s why the virus has spike protein.
I’m sure you all can agree that viruses are pretty weird microorganisms. Despite their nasty habits and sickness, these funky organisms sure are some abnormal sights!
These thoughts are based on my library searches of this topic. It is my way of getting my head around the constant news around me. I will be happy to read more and update these as I broaden my knowledge. As of now. follow me on Instagram at coolbrain5. Stay safe and keep experimenting!