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