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Viruses Versus Cellular Life: Who’s the Boss?

Viruses, colored orange, attached to a membrane vesicle from the SAR11 marine bacteria, coloured gray.

Context: The most common organism in the oceans harbors a virus in its DNA

Meta-replicatory strategies (as explained in the article linked above) being those of diversifying and exploiting multiple channels of optimal and simultaneous self-replication. The referenced order of magnitude more viruses than bacteria in the ocean already suggests that the grey-zone between “living” matter and blind, undirected chemistry is even more complex than we might ever or even simply comprehend.

If the virus is the bundle of information, the minimally-concise instruction set and self-description of the organic self-replicator, the host is the decompressed library of functions and procedures through which that program is actualised. In this way, the abstract logico-chemical instructions of the host form an extended (if disembodied) phenotype of the virus itself.

An interesting idea and with many permutations but one of disconcerting affect is that, the parasitic symbiosis and interdependence of the gestalt macro-state of all these prokaryotes and viral freeloaders is such that the viruses are – as measured by their self-evident numerical success – the inadvertent, blind and unwitting apex predators in this system. “Living oceans”, as another thought, might actually be single, unified and vastly-distributed information self-replicators.

Coronavirus: Cunning little icosahedrons.

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