Virology is the study of viruses and virus-like agents, including (but not limited to) taxonomy, disease-producing traits, cultivation and genetics. It is often considered part of microbiology or pathology.
In the early years, the discipline of virology depended on the advancement of chemistry and physics, but the virus soon became a tool for investigating the basic biochemical processes of cells.
Viruses are traditionally viewed in a somewhat negative context as agents responsible for diseases that must be controlled or eliminated. However, the virus also has certain beneficial properties that can be exploited for useful purposes (for example in gene therapy or Vaccinology).
Basically, virology is a branch of microbiology related to the study of viruses (as well as various virus-like particles), characteristics, classifications, as well as their relationship with their respective host.
Compared with other organisms in microbiology, viruses are very unique with different characteristics (related to multiplication, structure, etc.) that distinguish them.
Given that the virus has a medical and veterinary meaning, virology is increasingly becoming one of the most important microbiology subdisciplines that allow researchers to not only find treatments and cures for the diseases they cause, but also use them for pharmaceutical purposes.
Some common properties of the virus include:
- It can only reproduce (through synthesis and assembly) in living cells
- Contains DNA/RNA or both, in some cases
- Unable to perform se**xual or ase**xual mode of reproduction
- Not cells – They are acellular particles that do not have normal cell organelles and cytoplasm
- Very small compared to other single-celled organisms
- Unlike other single-cell organisms, viruses are referred to as “particles” in most books because they are not considered “living” cells.
- They are parasites that rely entirely on living cells for replication.
History of Virology
In the 16th century, thanks to the tulip trade what flowers were pigmented and spotted differently, it was found that these patterns, which are a symptom of viral diseases, can be transmitted to healthy tulips. Possibly, this variety of tulips are infected with the tulip mosaic virus.
Then, in the late 19th century, pharmacist Adolf Eduard Mayer discovered that tobacco mosaic disease could spread to healthy plants by injecting the sap of diseased plants.
On the other hand, Russian scientist Ivanovsky is the one who successfully identified different filterable and microscopic entities from bacteria and that could be the cause of tobacco mosaic disease. Thus, the term “filterable agent” is used to refer to this entity before the term “virus” is adopted.
Beijerinck, a Dutch botanist and microbiologist, confirmed the filterable properties of this virus and realized that the infectious substance was different from the microorganisms known at that time. He later called it contagium vivum fluidum.
It can be seen later that both Mayer and Ivanofsky and Beijerinck each contributed to the discovery of filterable agents that can be observed under a microscope and which have the ability to multiply in living cells and cause disease.
In another order of ideas, two important steps in the history of virology were the standardization of crystallographic techniques in 1937 and the inauguration of an electron microscope in 1939 that allowed further and further study of the virus.
Already in the 1960s, most of the entities that cause major infectious processes in humans, such as polio, rubella, chicken pox, among others, have been identified. Also, at that time several vaccines were already existing.
The importance of virology
From a biological point of view, it should be noted that all living things have a virus that parasitized them. From a clinical perspective, it is worth underlining that thanks to virology, it is possible to find many viruses responsible for the disease.
For example, viruses such as HIV, herpes, and various types of hepatitis have been found. Similarly, vaccines have been developed and existing vaccines have been improved. In addition, virology has enabled advances in molecular biology.
It should be noted that for some researchers, the importance of virology is very important in the study of problems related to molecular biology, which is why they consider it an independent microbiological science.
In our present day, virology enables important advances in the field of infectious diseases and molecular biology.
Thank you very much for reading Virology Definition, History, and The Importance, hopefully useful.