General, Research, Technology

New virus with unknown genome discovered in Brazil

Viruses are one of the smallest life forms onour planet and at the same time are some of the most dangerous. Constantly evolving, viruses are becoming more adapted and sophisticated. But do we all know about them? Researchers recently discovered a new form of the virus that contains virtually no genes known to science. The mysterious virus collected from amoebas in an artificial lake in Pampulha, which is located in the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, was significantly smaller than the viruses that amoebas usually have. Scientists named the virus Yaravirus brasiliensis in honor of the water nymph Yara, who, according to the myths of the peoples of South America, looked like a mermaid and lured sailors under the water so that they lived with her forever.

The newly identified Yaravirus is not like any of the previously registered.

Amoeba virus - a relative of the giant virus?

When scientists sequenced the Yaravirus genebrasiliensis - the process of determining the complete DNA sequence - they found that more than 90% of its genome is not familiar to modern science. In their blog devoted to the study of the virus, the researchers said that they had made an amazing discovery - the discovery of a new line of amoebic virus with an amazing origin and phylogeny. The work was published on the Bioarxiv preprint server.

According to Jonatas Abrahan, a virologist fromFederal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the results of the study indicate how much we still need to know about viruses. As Professor Abrahan told ScienceMag.org, some of the Yaravirus brasiliensis genes look like giant virus genes, but it’s still unclear how they are linked. He and his colleagues are now exploring other features of the new virus. One non-research scientist suggested that the results represent "a new treasure chest of previously unseen biochemical processes."

A giant virus under a microscope looks like this

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In general, researchers believe that the newthe virus comes from an unknown isolated group of viruses or distant relatives of a giant virus, which acquired a reduced form during evolution. Giant viruses were discovered in the twenty-first century. These organisms reach the size of a bacterial cell. Because of capsid - the protein coat that encapsulates viral particles, the virus is called giant. The DNA of a giant virus exceeds 200,000 base pairs and contains Orfan genes that are not found in other organisms.

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Yaravirus is composed of small particles with a size of 80 nmand has a unique genome. According to the researchers, it is simple and does not contain giant particles, but at the same time, a significant amount of previously undescribed genes is observed in Yaravirus. Scientists intend to obtain additional information about the new virus in the course of further research.