|How does a virus differ from a worm? It cannot
reproduce, but it can replicate? They seem
similar except a virus appears to need a host or
|Question Date: 2017-05-12|
Viruses and parasitic worms seem very similar
on their surface (infecting other organisms) but
are actually very different. The first major
difference between the two is size; worms are
much larger than viruses. Viruses are
typically between one hundred and one thousand
times smaller than worms. Worms are also much
more advanced than viruses are. They don’t
exactly have a brain, but they have a system
that’s similar. Viruses are way simpler: they
can’t think or make any action for themselves.
Another difference is that viruses must hijack
cells in order to reproduce. They are
completely incapable of living outside of their
host. Parasitic worms can make offspring on their
own, but they live inside other organisms. The
difference is a little confusing so think about it
like this: worms hide inside other organisms
and use some of their resources, like food.
Viruses take over a specific cell and turn it
into a virus-producing factory. Thank you for
I never heard about viruses and worms being
similar. Actually, they are quite different.
Aha! I googled them, and I see that they're
similar in computers, along with 'trojan horses.'
In biology, viruses and worms are totally
Viruses are so tiny they're not even as big as
a cell. They have DNA, but they can't
reproduce and replicate unless they're inside a
In comparison, worms are huge. Think of
earthworms, which are so big that we can see them
easily. There are lots of tiny worms, too, but
they're still much much bigger than viruses.
Some worms grow outside any host animal, like the
earthworm. Some worms grow only inside an animal.
But the worms that grow inside an animal only
need to be in the animal to get their food. Those
worms have lots of cells of their own that can
replicate and make new cells. The worms grow,
using their own enzymes. They just need to get
their food from their host. Viruses need to
use enzymes from their host in order to replicate.
Worms are animal that have long, slender
bodies and no major limbs. Like all animals,
worms' bodies are composed of many cells. Viruses
are particles of RNA or DNA enclosed in protein
that protect them, and are much smaller than even
a single cell.
Being animals, worms have all of the biological
capabilities necessary for reproduction. The only
things that they need are energy and raw
materials. Most worms are not parasites, and live
freely in the water or soil, but those that are
parasites get their materials from the host.
They do not need information from the host, just
energy and materials.
Viruses do not contain enough information in
their DNA or RNA to create more of themselves.
The process by which a virus reproduces involves
using the information that they contain and
combining it with the DNA from the host's genome,
which is able to replicate itself. Having
replicated themselves using the host's genome,
they then break out of the host cell, killing it,
and infect other host cells.
Both viruses and worms are parasites which
means that they have a relationship with a host
species in which they benefit, but the host is
hurt. However, their mechanisms are very
Worms are animals so they are made of many
cells and have many needs. By living in a
larger animal host, they can get all of the
nutrients they need from the host directly and
eventually reproduce. Generally parasitic worms
can’t survive without a host because they’ve
evolved to be dependent on their host.
A virus is very different, it is technically
not living so it doesn’t need nutrients. It’s
basically just a package of genetic material that
makes more copies of itself. It uses a cell’s
machinery to copy its genetic material and then
kills the cell once it has enough copies. The
size relationship of a virus and a cell is similar
in scale to the relationship of a worm and an
animal. In other words, a worm is hundreds of
times longer than a virus. So viruses and worms
are similar in that they are parasites, but
that’s really where the similarity ends.
Viruses are non-living genetic packages that
replicate using cellular machinery and worms are
multicellular animals that feed off an animal’s
There are actually many, many kinds of worms. Some
are earthworms or leeches, but most are so small
that you can’t see them without a microscope. They
live in soil, plants, and just about everywhere
Worms are animals, so they are made of many
cells, eat, and move. Like all living things,
they take in nutrients and energy, give off
wastes, grow, and reproduce. They usually need
another worm to reproduce, but not always.
Viruses are like a super-parasite in some
ways. They invade cells and turn them into virus
factories. They do not use their own
“machinery” to do this, they just insert their own
directions (DNA or RNA) into the cell’s nucleus
and let the cell do the work.
Viruses are not alive. They don’t take
in energy and nutrients and give off wastes, they
let the cell do that. They don’t grow. They are
assembled by the cell. But they are like living
things in some ways. They have DNA or RNA and are
made by using energy to create order. They just
don’t do the work.
We compared a virus to a worm. Now try
comparing a virus to a book (ignore the size!).
How is it more like a car then a worm or more
like a worm than a book? Think about things
like how it is made, information, energy, and
Thanks for asking
Click Here to return to the search form.
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.