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Brandt Levitt

Viruses require cells principally for protein production (obviously some viruses have their own polymerases and other nucleic acid enzymes). I would venture that all the cellular mechanisms associated with protein production would be required in order for a virus to be free living. From a structural point of view, this would include ribosomes and a membrane to contain the appropriate enzymes and structural units. Certainly it would also require some basic form of energy metabolism to power the translation as well.

The simplest free living bacteria, Nanoarchaeum, with a tiny 500 kb genome, doesn't have much more than these components.

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