Did you know that the existence of viruses and bacteria on Earth predates the appearance and evolution of the vast majority of living beings today? Both are invisible to the human eye, and are known worldwide for the various diseases they cause, both in humans and in other living organisms.
However, the terms “virus” and “bacteria”, in some areas, are commonly used interchangeably and, therefore, erroneously, since there are numerous differences between the two. In addition, the symptoms of infection to differentiate between viruses and bacteria are also different, as well as the type of medication to be used to combat them. Keep reading this interesting post by AgroCorrn and you will discover in detail what the difference is between viruses and bacteria .
Difference between viruses and bacteria – summary
Starting from the main difference between viruses and bacteria , for which the latter are considered as living beings and, on the other hand, the former are not, there are more differences that we will see in detail in the following list:
Bacteria are much larger than viruses (sometimes up to 100 times larger), and they can be observed by light microscopy, whereas higher resolution electron microscopy is required to see viruses.
The anatomy of bacteria includes a resistant cell wall , as well as structural membranes and different intracellular organs (ribosomes, cytoplasm, bacterial genome, among others). Viruses, on the other hand, only have their genetic material included within the so-called viral capsid .
In bacteria, the reproduction process is complex and is characterized by the ability of the mother cell to reproduce autonomously, that is, without the need for another organism to be able to divide and transmit its genetic information to its daughter cells, which also they are able to divide again and continue the reproductive process. In contrast, viruses are unable to reproduce without a living being to infect or parasitize, that is, without the help of the enzymatic and reproductive machinery of another cell they infect, thus allowing their reproduction through a process of replication of the material. gene that creates the “new” virus.
Difference in the spread of viruses and bacteria
When bacteria infect an organism, the effects of their contagion are due to the action of different metabolic products of the same, which are harmful to the infected organism, thus causing various diseases for which it is necessary to supply antibiotics that eliminate the cell wall of bacteria and thus cause bacterial death.
On the contrary, in the face of a viral infection, the cells of the infected organism will be directly attacked, since the virus smooths and directly breaks the healthy cells to guarantee their survival, causing serious imbalances in the cellular organization and, in the case of animals , in your immune system. To deal with a viral infection, it will be necessary to apply vaccines that end the life of the virus, or drugs with a virostatic action that stop the multiplication of the virus inside the body, as well as other drugs that reduce the effects of the virus. infection, such as fever.
Both can be spread in various ways: direct contact between people, some from animals to people or vice versa, having contact with contaminated surfaces or with contaminated materials and fluids (feces, urine, mucus, saliva or blood), by contaminated food, etc. The contagion itself or the route of transmission will depend on the type of virus or bacteria that is being discussed.
What is a virus – definition and characteristics
Viruses are molecular and protein aggregates that lack a life of their own . However, they do have genetic elements, and they constitute one of the most numerous and diverse groups of systems or organisms that have evolved on planet Earth. Among the main characteristics of viruses are:
- They need to infect other organisms to survive, being able to attack the cells of animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms; even other viruses.
- They do not perform any type of vital function, other than to replicate to maintain the infection in the host organism, with the aim of colonizing it and expanding the presence of new viral structures, always identical to the original virus.
- There are different types of viruses, depending on their structure and type of genetic material.
Learn much more about them in this other AgroCorrn article about Are viruses living beings or not?
What is a bacterium – definition and characteristics
Now that you know the difference between viruses and bacteria and more characteristics about the former, we can clarify what bacteria are . Bacteria are a really large and varied group of single-celled microorganisms . They are capable of surviving in very hostile environments on the planet, both in aerobic and anaerobic conditions, as well as in areas of high or low temperatures. They thus have a great survival resistance, which is directly related to many of the main characteristics of bacteria :
- They are made up of prokaryotic cells, lacking a cell nucleus, but with various intracellular organelles, such as ribosomes and cytoplasm, as well as a resistant cell wall and structures associated with communication with other bacteria and the environment in which they inhabit. They are capable of living like this, both in isolation and in association (beneficial or harmful) with other organisms.
- They reproduce through cell division, the genetic material of the daughter cells being identical to that of the mother cell, except in certain exceptions in which the exchange of genetic material between bacteria occurs.
- There are a great variety of families of bacteria, which are grouped according to their structure and functionality.