how is a virus and animal cell similar and different?

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marissa48 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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Both a virus and an animal cell contain genetic material ultimately surrounded by a protective outer coat.  This, however is where the similarities end.


  • An animal cell contains DNA as its genetic material, whereas a virus can contain either DNA or RNA.
  • An animal cell is considered eukaryotic, meaning it contains membrane bound organelles and a nucleus (where its genetic material is found) while a virus is just made up of genetic material surrounded by a protective coat.
  • Perhaps the most important difference between the two is their method or reproduction.  An animal cell can reproduce on its own, going through mitosis (all cells except sex cells) or meosis (sex cells), while a virus must use a "host cell" to reproduce.  Because a virus must inject another cell with its genetic material in order to reproduce, a virus is not considered by most scientists to be living.

Hope this helps :  )

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