Suppose a virus randomly lands on a cell that's just lying around. This cell may have just recently died, or died a while ago. This cell may also be part of tissue of a dead organism.* Does the virus know that cell is dead? Would it attempt to inject its DNA into the cell?

*If it's a single cell, not part of a tissue, I imagine a "dead" cell would be lysed, so a virus landing on a "single dead cell" wouldn't happen - pleae correct me if I am wrong. So I'm asking how it would be for a dead organism because we can still see those dead tissues ..

  • $\begingroup$ Which virus, which cell? $\endgroup$ – James Sep 19 '16 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I don't know much about different types of viruses and their specific hosts so I can't give a specific example.. If anyone could recommend some examples that could help. @James $\endgroup$ – Mango Princess Sep 19 '16 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ A lysed cell may be defined as a leaky one, which doesn't have to be dead yet. I think the question hinges on 'What is a dead cell?' and what is 'a lysed cell?' $\endgroup$ – AliceD Sep 19 '16 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ You wrote, "would it attempt to inject the DNA into the cell" ... viruses do not have any nervous mechanism, so they can not "attempt" to attack any cell. They just get spread through air/water/etc (which is its proper propagation-medium). When they come in touch with the right host (with the right receptor-proteins), they bind, enter and cause disease. Now if the 'dead' (but not too distorted) cell can yet maintain the right binding-sequences in their membrane proteins, virus would bind, but probably it would not be phagosized. Or if it uses penetration/fusion methods, but wouldn't multiply. $\endgroup$ – Always Confused Sep 20 '16 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Christiaan; without an operational definition of 'death' at the cellular stage for multicellular organisms, this is too vague to answer. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Sep 26 '16 at 9:23

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