This illustrated manual represents visual material about viruses ...

codinstrumentBiotechnology

Oct 23, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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This illustrated manual represents visual material about viruses


mysterious natural
objects existing on the boundary between the “living” and the “non
-
living” states. The term
“virus” is mainly attributed to the active, reproducing form whereas the term

“virion” is used to
designate the passive, extracellular form of viruses.

The manual consists of 17 chapters. The information is given predominantly as figures,
tables and diagrams. Plenty of colorful drawings present three
-
dimensional structures of virus

particles (virions), their genetic features, including also overview of their reproduction, diversity
and role in medicine and in biosphere in general. Special attention is given to modern principles
of virus classification, to peculiarities of viral nucl
eic acids, composition of viral capsids,
differences between reproduction strategies of RNA
-

and DNA
-
viruses as well as biology and
chemistry of bacteriophages.

The necessity of such a handbook format was suggested by 25
-
year long lecturing the
course “Gen
eral Virology” to the KazNU students specialized in microbiology and
biotechnology. The course is given mainly in Kazakh and Russian but since English has become
the main language of scientific communication, we decided to provide our readers with English
texts too.

Ongoing interest to viruses is stipulated by many reasons, two of them, as we believe,
are most important. Firstly, viruses are notoriouis infectious agents responsible for many
devastating diseases of plants and animals: influenza, poliomyelit
is, hepatitis, AIDS, etc. The
damage produced by viruses on agricultural cultures


rice, potatos, tomatos, cucumbers and
others


significantly reduces agricultural productivity, considerably contributing to the world
food crisis. Secondly, viruses are ve
ry convenient experimental objects and models for
biochemical, genetic, medical and other studies. Their usage has allowed solving many
theoretical and practical problems of biology, biotechnology and medicine.

Another interesting aspect, in our opinion,
is the parallelism between the biological
viruses and the computer viruses that became widely known in the end of 70’s. This fact is
reflected in similarity of the terms used to describe anti
-
virus strategies: there are programs
called “polyphages”, “filte
rs”, “inspectors” etc. Interestingly, also some books, devoted to
description of computer viruses are called simply “Virology”, indicating similarity in terminology
(В.Веселов, 1992). Indeed, the effects produced by computer viruses on a computer are often

similar to the cytopathic effects observed in case of virus infection. Like their biological
counterparts, computer viruses can integrate their code into the host’s code, can proliferate by
generating numerous copies, can infect multiple programs and comp
uters, etc. Now, in the era
of Internet and wireless communications, the spread of viruses can be even more rapid. Many
anti
-
virus programs, created so far, mimic biological antivirus protection in their functional
principles.

The abovementioned similariti
es have lead some specialists to express an opinion that
“both computer and biological viruses use same structural and functional principles but differ
only in the used material” and that “a computer virus in an analog of biological viruses”
(Д.Красножон).

In the view of multiple analogies between these two types of viruses, we
decided to include into this manual also some information concerning computer viruses,
especially principles of their organization and reproduction. Computer virology, a quickly
deve
loping branch of science, faces nowadays numerous challenges. Among its tasks is creation
of heuristic software able to recognize even single fragments of virus code, analysis of emerging
hazards, developing of measures aimed on prevention of virus spread
and proliferation.

The authors express their hope that this handbook will be useful and handy as an
accompanying guide especially for the students attending the course “General Virology”. It will
provide assistance in performing home and class exercises
, and also will stimulate progress in
acquaintance with viral genetics and morphology. The “computer virology” section is intended
to give students some broader understanding of the universal principles of parasitism.

Being the first attempt of the author
s to create a virology book in a visual, reader
-
oriented
format, this book inevitably contains inaccuracies, factual errors and mistakes. The authors will
appreciate and accept all critical considerations and comments aimed to “debugging” of the
book with
gratitude.