Saturday, January 30, 2021



Virocell Concept Applied To Non-Viral Parasites

Post # 33

Donald A. Windsor

Viruses that harm their hosts are parasites. The popular notion that viruses are not alive has been dispelled by Patrick Forterre with his virocell concept (1, 2, 3). A virus is composed of a virion and a virocell. The virion is a protein capsule that contains a nucleic acid genome. The virocell is the host cell that accepts a virion and then produces more virions. The virus is the living organism. The virion is the equivalent of a plant seed.

If non-viral parasites (hereafter just called parasites) were regarded this way, the definitive host and its parasite, together, would be the living organism. The definitive host would be analogous to the virocell and the parasite would be analogous to the virion. The parasite would also be analogous to a seed.

Admittedly, this is an unconventional way of considering parasites.

But, it is consistent with my concept of considering parasitism as a property of life (4).

It is also consistent with my concept of the biocartel, first reported in 1997 (5).

A lot more thought has to go into this concept. For instance, some parasites have intermediate hosts in their life cycles. Do some viruses have intermediate virocells? Parasites may or may not reproduce in their intermediate hosts. Sometimes the intermediate host serves simply to transmit the parasite to its next host.

References cited:

1. Forterre, Patrick. Manipulation of cellular syntheses and the nature of viruses. The virocell concept. Comptes Rendus Chimie 2011; 14: 393-399.

2. Forterre, Patrick. The virocell concept and environmental microbiology. The ISME Journal [International Society for Microbial Ecology] 2013; 7:233-236.

3. Forterre, Patrick. Viruses in the 21st century: from the curiosity-driven discovery of giant viruses to new concepts and definition of life. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2017; 65 Supplement 1: S74-S78.

4. Windsor, Donald A. Parasitism as a property of life. Parasites Dominate 2013 September 3; Post #2.

5. Windsor, Donald A. The basic unit of evolution is the host-symbiont "biocartel". Evolutionary Theory 1997 August; 11(4): 275.


Monday, January 18, 2021



Post # 32

How Many Habitats In Our Biosphere?

Donald A. Windsor

Many more than realized some multiple of the total number of free-living species. Because every free-living species hosts one or more species of parasite. To a parasite, its host is its habitat. Parasites with complex life cycles dwell in several habitats. Moreover, some parasites host their own parasites.

A host provides several habitats. Each organ or tissue could be a habitat for parasites. Parasites that enter the gastrointestinal tract and travel to a specific tissue have to pass through other tissues to get to their final destination. So, the total number of habitats is a multiple of the total number of hosts.

Some free-living species host large numbers of parasite species. The American Robin (Turdus migratorious) is the host for at least 94 parasite species (1). The European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), a cosmopolitan bird, is host to at least 175 parasite species (2). These are just the species I could document in the literature. There are likely to be many more yet to be discovered.

In addition to all the biological habitats are the non-biological habitats.

The upshot is that while the exact number of habitats on Earth may be too elusive to calculate, it is safe to proclaim that the number is astronomical.

References cited:

1. Windsor, Donald A. Biocartel of the American Robin (Turdus migratorious). Archives of the SciAesthetics Institute 2000 August; 1(1): 13-18.

2. Windsor, Donald A. Biocartel of the European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). Archives of the SciAesthetics Institute 2000 August; 1(1): 19-28.