Bacteria vs. Virus: 28 Differences with Examples

Differences Between Bacteria and Virus

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Some of the differences between bacteria and virus are as follows:

S.N. Character Bacteria Virus
1.Cell typeProkaryotic cellsAcellular
2.Number of cellsSingle-celledNo cell
3.SizeLarger than viruses (0.3-2 μ)Minute (0.02-0.3 μ)
4.MicroscopyVisible under Light Microscope.Visible only under an Electron Microscope.
5.Shape Common bacterial cell shapes include cocci (spherical), bacilli (rod-shaped), spiral, and vibrio (comma-shaped).Viruses typically have spherical (polyhedral), rod-shaped, or helically shaped capsids while some viruses, such as bacteriophages, have complex shapes.
6.Cellular MachineryPossesses a cellular machinery Lack of cellular machinery
7.Type of organismMostly intercellular organisms (i.e. they live in-between cells); some intracellular.Intracellular organisms (they infiltrate the host cell and live inside the cell). 
8.StructureOrganelles and genetic material within a cell wallGenetic material within a capsid, some have an envelope membrane.
9.Cell wallCell wall made of peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide.No cell wall. Protein coat presents instead.
10.Cellular membraneCell membranes are present. No sterol except in Mycoplasma cells which have cholesterol.Some are enveloped but have no membrane function.
11.GenomeDNA and RNA

1 chromosomeNo histones


1 nucleocapsid except in segmented or diploid viruses

12.Nucleic acidDNA and RNA float freely in the cytoplasm.DNA or RNA is enclosed inside a coat of protein.
13.mRNAMono- and poly-cistronic mRNASome have poly-cistronic mRNA and post-translational cleavage.
14.Cell organellesPresence of non-membrane-bound cell organelles.Absent. Uses host organelles; obligate intracellular parasites
15.Ribosomes70s ribosomes (30s+50s)No ribosomes
16.Living attributesLiving organisms.Between living and non-living things.
17.ReplicationBinary fission (asexual). DNA replicates cells continuously.It invades a host cell and takes over the cell causing it to make copies of the viral DNA/RNA. Destroys the host cell releasing new viruses.
18.The need for host cellAble to reproduce by itself.Need a living cell to reproduce
19.Other formsIn some spore-forming bacteria, sporulating forms can be seen.Besides viruses, two other acellular forms exist Viroids and Prions.
20.Cells InfectedAnimal, Plant, FungiAnimal, Plant, Protozoa, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea
22.Induction of FeverA bacterial illness notoriously causes a feverA viral infection may or may not cause a fever.
23.Duration of illnessA bacterial illness commonly will last longer than 10 days.Most viral illnesses last 2 to 10 days.
24.Diseases/InfectionsFood poisoning, gastritis, and ulcers, meningitis, pneumonia, etcAIDS, common cold, influenza, chickenpox, etc
25.Susceptibility to AntibioticsMost bacteria are susceptible to antibiotics.The virus does not respond to antibiotics.
26.TreatmentAntibioticsAntiviral drugs
27.Beneficial useSome bacteria are beneficial (as normal flora, probiotics, fermenters, etc.)Viruses are not beneficial. However, a particular virus may be able to destroy brain tumors. Viruses can be useful in genetic engineering.
28.ExamplesE. coliSalmonella spp., Listeria spp., Mycobacteria spp., Staphylococcus spp., Bacillus anthracis, etc.HIV, Hepatitis A virus, Rhino Virus, Ebola virus, etc.

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

28 thoughts on “Bacteria vs. Virus: 28 Differences with Examples”

  1. Fungi, are they more closer to plant or animal? pls clarify in the light of morphology, structure, genetics, pathology e.t.c


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