Viruses are organisms at the edge of life and possess genes, evolve by natural selection, and reproduce by creating multiple copies of themselves through self-assembly.
Viral populations use the machinery and metabolism of a host cell to produce multiple copies of themselves, and they assemble in the cell. Viruses are, by far, the most abundant biological entities on Earth, and they outnumber all the others put together. They infect all types of cellular life, including animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi.
Eight hundred million viruses are deposited daily in rain from the Earth’s atmosphere onto every square metre of the planet’s surface. During the last half billion years, the communities of cells and viruses organised themselves into ever larger and more complicated structures, known to us as plants and animals which, although they appear to be individuals, are all embedded within the single organism that covers the Earth. They created out of themselves the most complicated organisms ever seen upon the surface of the Earth, people. The cells and viruses working together created the only known consciousness in the universe.
Will people, the living planet and its consciousness survive? Witness the turmoil across its surface. This minuscule spec of life is fragile.