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Understanding Viruses, Bacteria, And Prions Essay

1323 words - 5 pages

Many people get viruses, prions, and bacteria confused in multiple ways. However, these are different in several aspects, and once informed about them, people should no longer get them mixed up. For example, the most important and most unique differences between bacteria, prions, and viruses is that bacteria is a living organism, prions are not living organisms, and the debate regarding the living status of viruses has been, and still is, running on without the slightest sight of a resolution. Other pieces of evidence differentiating these is the way they reproduce, the way that they look, as in their shape and size, and the diseases that they cause and can help cure. In the past fifty years medical and technological information has increased majorly, revealing more knowledge and insight as to the similarities and differences between viruses, bacteria, and prions.
The first topic of discussion is the different structure types and sizes of these different organisms. Bacterium can appear in a few different shapes when you observe it under a microscope. The first of three is a spherical shape. The scientific name assigned to this type of bacteria is coccus (plural: cocci). Coccus is a term that means a berry. Many berries are in the shape of a sphere and this is why scientists designated it this name. Secondly, there are bacteria that exist as a rod shape. These are called bacilli (singular: bacillus), meaning a little stick. Lastly, and most uniquely, there are certain bacteria that are in the form of a spiral. The name given to these is spirillum (plural: spirilla), meaning spiral or coil. As for the way bacteria lives with other bacteria, it can exist on its own, in a pair, diplo-, in a group, staphylo-, or in a chain, strepto-. Whatever its shape, each contain a single chromosome of DNA, even though it doesn’t have a definite nucleus.
On another note, viruses all have the same form. That form includes two layers, the inner core and the outer shell. The outer shell consists of thousands of protein subunits, and has three major functions: 1) to protect the nucleic acid from being digested by enzymes, 2) to allow, at certain points on the capsid, the virus to attach to its host cell, and 3) to provide proteins that could possibly be needed to open the host cell wall and possibly inject it with the viral nucleic acid. The inner core contains the viral, nucleic acid. That nucleic acid could be one of two types, RNA: ribonucleic acid or DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid. This is what holds the code that will eventually disrupt the normality of any host cell it attaches itself to.
Finally, prions are by far the simplest organisms out of the three. Prions are proteinaceous infectious agents; this name was just shortened into ‘prions.’ Unlike viruses and bacteria, prions do not contain any nucleic acid. Also, they do not have a true shape. A study shows that they appear as spheres when healthy and as cubes when unhealthy. Prions are a very specific type of...

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