Viruses are still biologist’s puzzle since they show both living and non-living characters. Therefore viruses are considered as a separate entity. It is not taken into account in Whittaker’s five kingdom categorization. Viruses are now stated as ultramicroscopic, disease causing intra cellular obligate parasites.

Brief history of discovery:

Viruses were not recognized to biologists for a long time due to their ultramicroscopic structure however their presence was obvious by infectious diseases that were confirmed not due to bacteria. It attracted the concentration of investigators only in the nineteenth century when a virus termed as tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) caused rigorous damage to commercially significant tobacco crop.

Mayer explained that the disease could be transmitted merely by applying the sap of contaminated leaf to the leaf of healthy plant. He thought that the disease was due to bacteria.  It was the Russian biologist Iwanowsky (1892) who explained that the sap of infected leaves even after passing via bacterial filter remained infective, ruling out the bacterium as the causative agent. Dutch microbiologist Beijerinck (1898) verified the findings of Iwanowsky and termed the fluid “contagium vivum fluidum” that means contagious living fluid. This was later on termed as virion (i.e., poison) and the disease causing agent as virus. The American biochemist W.M. Stanley (1935), isolated virus in crystalline form and explained that even in that state it sustained the infectivity. This marked the starting of a new branch of science termed as virology.


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