David Clements is a columnist with the Langley Advance Times

David Clements is a columnist with the Langley Advance Times

GREEN BEAT: Viruses have truly gone viral

There are many ways that COVID-19 is making us stronger – and not just building our immunity

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization in March, the number of human cases was a very small fraction of what they are now.

Likewise, our collective respect for the impact of viruses like COVID-19 has grown exponentially.

In my first year biology classes, I used to give viruses a slight nod when I discussed the properties of life.

Other than that mention, I did not cover viruses at all.

This year, I have spent weeks delving into virus biology with my classes, even though I – like most scientists – am not convinced they are a life form.

My textbook refers to them as “borrowed life” because they borrow much of what they need from their host.

Properties of life such as self-regulation that even simple bacteria possess are only exhibited by viruses because they borrow the machinery and the membranes of the cells they infect.

RECENT GREEN BEAT COLUMN: 40 citizen scientists blitz Langley, uncovering rare species and more

However, one of the most impressive things about them is that they truly have lived up to their name, and have “gone viral!”

I am not just talking about the particular virus causing the current pandemic in the human population.

Viruses are everywhere, and attack almost every form of life.

Are you ready for the number?

It is estimated that there are 10 to the power of 31 viruses on earth.

If you can’t comprehend very well what that means, consider this: the number of viruses is 100 million times the number of stars in the known universe.

Needless to see, it is not just us that suffers from viruses – you can find them in bacteria, animals, plants, fungi, and algae.

My class and I discussed the bunchy top virus that threatens banana crops all over the world.

Once you get a big infestation in a plantation, generally the best prescription is to destroy the plantation and start again.

So why were they created? What good are they?

ANOTHER RECENT COLUMN – GREEN BEAT: Five ‘big moves’ would allow Langley to lead boldly

My textbook pointed out the value of viruses in understanding how DNA works, as they provide an outstanding research tool for scientists.

There’s not much to a virus than its DNA (or RNA).

Yet their tiny, simple form can have a big impact.

My students came up with another reason for their existence: to make us stronger.

In biological terms, making us stronger means building up our immune system.

Maybe there are many other ways the current pandemic is making us stronger – we can only hope!

.

– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

Email: news@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

CoronavirusLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(File photo)
Township to hold COVID-safe baseball spring break baseball camps

Aldergrove minor baseball and North Langley Trappers run two week camps

The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
The Langley School District has issued COVID-19 notifications for H.D. Stafford Middle and Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary schools. (Langley Schools)
Langley schools issued COVID-19 alerts, third this week for H.D. Stafford

As of Friday there are four local schools on the exposure list

Nesting season is marked after South Surrey preserve pair welcome first egg on Feb. 24, 2021. (Hancock Wildlife Foundation)
VIDEO: South Surrey bald eagle preserve welcomes first egg, marks nesting season

Second egg is expected Saturday afternoon and the babies will hatch in April

A model of the planned Salishan Place centre was displayed at a Fort public information session in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
$711,000 tourism grant goes to Langley arts and culture centre

Salishan Place by the River is a planned community hub with many amenities and uses

Cyclists checked out the 216th interchange crossing the night before it opened to motor vehicles in early September, 2020. The overpass has separated bike lanes for riders. (Mitchell Nurse/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Langley overpass wins cycling infrastructure award

HUB Cycling handed out the award to the Township and province recently

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Most of 376 the passengers aboard ship were denied entry into Canada in 1914

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Framed photos of Travis Selje and other items fill the top of a dresser in his bedroom. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Crown says defence case epilepsy caused fatal Surrey crash fails on balance of probabilities

‘She very clearly had some form of control over that vehicle,’ Crown argues

Most Read