Poor reporting on reproducing virus

RobertBradbury writes "Google news is reporting on 60+ articles being published by the various news media under the heading of "Scientists create a virus that reproduces." Its complete ca-ca demonstrating a complete lack of biological knowledge. In the first place a larger virus, the polio virus, has previously been synthesized (so this isn't "new" news). In the second place the bacterial virus phi X (and almost all other viruses) is not capable of self-replication (or reproduction). To be capable of self-replication in a biological system one would require the genetic code for both a DNA or RNA polymerase and a ribosome (these are necessary to copy the DNA/RNA of the genome and produce the proteins essential for viral self-replication. No known gene sequences that I'm aware of would allow those requirements to fit into the 5000 base pairs of the phi X genome (its like trying to fit a very large set of machines into a very small box). My quick estimate is that it would require hundreds of thousands perhaps millions of base pairs to produce a self-replicating virus. Viruses are normally inherently dependent upon their host bacteria or cells for reproduction (they are parasites). So the news reports are fundamentally flawed and should be taken with a very large grain of salt."

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