Bacteria and Viruses are the main objects of study in the field of genetics for two reasons: bacteria are chosen because of their simplicity. Viruses are an interesting area of study because they survive by placing their own genetics into other organisms. This gives rise to the possibility of transplanting foreign and possibly beneficial DNA and RNA into hosts that previously did not have those helpful genes.
Bacteria and viruses are the same in that they both contain genetic material, they both are prokaryotic, and they both are single celled. The main difference between them is that a bacteria is classified as living and a virus is classified as non-living. This is because bacteria can reproduce on their own, where viruses need to invade a host cell to be able to reproduce.
Bacteria are single-celled organisms that can replicate themselves. By this, I mean that they have all the genetic material to replicate (DNA & RNA). Viruses, in contrast, contain a piece of genetic material that is encapsulated by a protein coat known as a capsid. Because viruses only have a portion of genetic material, they have to infect a host organism and inject its material into the host and use the host to do the work for the virus. Since bacteria can "live" on its own and viruses cannot, bacterial infections can be treated with medications while viral cannot. In comparison of size, viruses are about 100 times smaller than bacteria. About of 90% of known bacteria live in a symbiotic relationship with humans. This means that the presence of bacteria is beneficial to both the bacteria and humans. In comparison, most viruses feed of the host to produce more viruses... therefore having no benefit to the host.
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