What are Vampire Viruses?

1 min read
What are Vampire Viruses? Blog Image


Several ‘Vampire Viruses’ have been recently discovered on US soil for the first time.

About Vampire Viruses

  • They are pathogens that latch onto other viruses in order to replicate themselves. 
  • They emerge when a bacteriophage attaches to a soil-based virus, utilising its "life" for independent survival.
  • This viral relationship between two pathogens is called a satellite and a helper.
  • The satellite is the infectious strand that relies on the helper for support through its life cycle.
  • Satellites depend on both their host organism and helper virus to complete its life cycle.
  • The satellite virus depends on the helper virus to build the protective shell that covers its genetic material, called a capsid or to help it replicate its DNA.
  • Most satellite viruses contain a gene that allows them to integrate into the host cell’s genetic material after they enter the cell. 
  • This enables the satellite to reproduce whenever a helper enters the cell from then on.
  • The host cell also copies the satellite’s DNA and its own when it divides. 

What is a Bacteriophage?

  • Bacteriophages (BPs) are viruses that can infect and kill bacteria without any negative effect on human or animal cells. 
  • For this reason, it is supposed that they can be used, alone or in combination with antibiotics, to treat bacterial infections.
  • They are comprised of a protein capsule around an RNA or DNA genome.
  • The bacteriophage structure may include various features for infecting the host cell. Many bacteriophages have a central shaft and leglike appendages.
  • The legs attach to the bacteria, and genetic material is injected through the shaft into the host cell cytoplasm, where it replicates and reassembles into progeny.
  • Thousands of varieties of phages exist, each of which may infect only one type or a few types of bacteria or archaea.

Q1) What is a Virus?

A virus is an infectious microbe consisting of a segment of nucleic acid (either DNA or RNA) surrounded by a protein coat. A virus cannot replicate alone; instead, it must infect cells and use components of the host cell to make copies of itself. Often, a virus ends up killing the host cell in the process, causing damage to the host organism. Well-known examples of viruses causing human disease include AIDS, COVID-19, measles and smallpox.