How are viroids different from viruses?


Viroids – Viroids are infectious entities that affect plants that are smaller compared to a virus. They consist of only nucleic acid without a protein coat. Viruses are infective agents consisting of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat.

Virus – A virus is a biological entity that can only reproduce within a host. Anatomically, viruses possess nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) which are encased within a  protective protein coat. These entities are able to infect all forms of life, ranging from bacteria to humans, and consequently, they bring about a multitude of diseases in their host.

How viroids are different from viruses?

Viroids are different from viruses in the following ways:

  • Its RNA does not code for protein
  • It exists within the cells as RNA particles only with no envelope or capsid
  • It possesses only one circular RNA strand comprising of very few nucleotides
  • Contrary to viruses, viroids require no help of viruses to infect cells
  • Contrary to viruses of which the RNA can be copied in the nucleus or cytoplasm, the RNA of viroids are copied in the nucleus only
  • To detect the presence of viroids in the plant tissues, special techniques are used.

Articles to Explore:

  1. What are the functions of proteins?
  2. What is a virus?

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