Compare and contrast the lytic and lysogenic life cycles of a virus.  

Expert Answers
dcbiostat eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Viruses can reproduce via either the lytic or lysogenic life cycles, each of which are described below.

  • During the lytic life cycle of a virus, the virus injects its genetic material into the host cell.  The genetic material enters the nucleus and is inserted into that cell’s DNA. The cell’s nucleus is now programmed differently.  The cell immediately begins to use its machinery to produce the parts of future viruses.  Eventually, the parts are assembled and the cell explodes (lysis) releasing more harmful viruses that are then free to infect more host cells.
  • The lysogenic lifecycle of a virus begins just like the lytic lifecycle. The virus injects it genetic material into the host cell.  The genetic material enters the nucleus and is inserted into that cell’s DNA.  However, the construction of new viruses does not begin right away. Instead, the genetic materials of the virus remains dormant within the genetic material of the host cell. Each time a host cell divides, it’s daughter will have the dormant viral material in it. This continues until the cell undergoes some sort of stress that causes the viral replication to switch back to the lytic cycle.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question