If viruses aren't considered to be alive how can they replicate or mutate?

2 Answers
May 24, 2018

They dock onto a host cell and infect the host cell with the virus


The virus attaches to a host cell membrane (e.g. bacterial cell membrane). The virus then continues by injecting a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) into the host cell. The viral DNA is then dublicated by the host cells DNA replication machinery. The host cell then makes parts of the viral envelope. In the host cell the viral parts are assembled to become a fully functioning virus. When this process is completed, they break the host cell and the viruses are able to infect new host cells. Like this they are able to replicate.

May 25, 2018

Viruses can reproduce using the DNA of a host cell mistakes in the replication of the of the Viruses informational code causes mutations.


Viruses do not have enough information to replicate their DNA or RNA. In order to replicate the information in the viruses information code the virus uses the information in the DNA of a host cell.

One major definition of a living organism is the ability to reproduce. Viruses cannot reproduce on their own so often are not consider to be living organisms. However since viruses do reproduce using the host cells, so to some degree viruses are living things.

Viruses can mutate in the same way as any living organism. A mutation is the result of a mistake in the copying the information in the organism. Shannon's information laws prove that information is subject to the second law of thermodynamics. Every time information is copied some of the information is lost or miscopied.
Every mistake made in copying the genetic information results in a mutation.

The host cells information code can make mistakes in copying the viruses information as well as making mistakes in copying the host cells information.