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really virus are living beings but it is hard to decide whether they are living or not because of several reasons.
1- they show the characteristics of living being when only it live in a cell.
2- they never breathe
3- they are minute
4- they have a simple body structure
5- they reproduce
some say they are in the border between living and non living
They reproduce, which is like a living being, and they have DNA or RNA. However, they do not produce their own proteins. Due to this they are not technically alive, but they are very close.
The characteristics of life(biotic factor)
2. Ability to reproduce
6. response to stimuli
7. nutrition need (need for some chemical compound or organism to provide nutrition)
While viruses fit some of these categories, it is debatable whether or not it fits all these categories to the full extent.
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there is a law that says the basic unit of all living things are cells. Considering, viruses are not made up of cells they should not be considered living. However, likle said above they do carry many characteristics of living things so it's hard to distinguish if they are or are not living
Basically, the problem lies in how we define something as alive. The answers above have covered most of the characteristics used to separate a living organism from the bio molecules they are made from. Viruses, however, blur this line. They have many characteristics of living organisms. They have DNA (or RNA in many cases), contain proteins, and have a membrane of sorts that separates them from the environment. The real problem when it comes to considering them as alive is the fact they they do not have a metabolism of their own and cannot reproduce on their own. To accomplish this, they invade a cell and hijack that cells machinery to reproduce themselves. It is, as always with biology, more complex than this, but that is the general idea of why there is a debate as to whether viruses are alive or not.
There is a catch in the arguement that they Reproduce. As 2 of my Biology teachers put it, and my out additional reseach, they actually "Replicate". Reproduction and Replication are slightly different as such: when a cell divides both cells share material from the original cell; a when a virus invades a host cell, it takes control of that cell's processes and forces it to only make mass quantities of the invading virus. So, almost none (if any) of the new viruses share material with the original, it was kind of just a blueprint.