Science 2 min read

Mysterious Virus Baffles Scientists Because of its Unique Genome

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Scientists have recently discovered a mysterious virus called Yaravirus, named after Yara, a water-queen figure in Brazillian mythology.

Viral forms uncovered in recent times have challenged our understanding of viruses.

Two years ago, virologists Bernard La Scola and Jônatas S. Abrahão discovered a water-dwelling giant virus called Tupanvirus.

Unlike the regular variety, the giant viruses had huge capsids and posses complex genomes. As a result, they could synthesize proteins and preform essential DNA functions.

These include DNA repair, plus DNA replication, transcription, and translation.

Before the discovery, scientists saw viruses as non-living entities that are only capable of infecting their hosts. Now, we know viruses are much more complex than initially thought.

Although Yaravirus may not be a giant virus, it does have a unique genome. In fact, the microorganism consists of genes that previous studies have never documented in viral research.

The authors wrote In their published paper in bioRxiv:

“Contrary to what is observed in other isolated viruses of amoeba, Yaravirus is not represented by a large/giant particle and a complex genome, but at the same time carries an important number of previously undescribed genes.”

Here’s what we know about the virus so far.

Yaravirus: A Mysterious Virus With Orphan Genes

During their investigation, the scientists noted that more than 90 percent of Yaravirus genes are entirely new to science.

After searching over 8,500 publicly available metagenomes, the researchers had no clue what the virus might be closely related to. In other words, the mysterious virus consists of Orphan genes – genes without detectable homologs in other lineages.

According to scientists, only six genes bore a distant resemblance to known viral genes in public scientific databases.

Using standard protocols, our very first genetic analysis was unable to find any recognizable sequences of the capsid or other classical viral genes in Yaravirus,” the researchers explain. “Following the current metagenomic protocols for viral detection, Yaravirus would not even be recognized as a viral agent.

So, what exactly is Yaravirus?

The researchers speculate that it could be the first isolated case of an unknown group of an amoebal virus. Another explanation suggests that Yaravirus is a distant kind of giant virus that has managed to evolve into a reduced form.

Whatever the case may be, the discovery suggests that we still have a lot to learn about viral forms.

Read More: Scientist Claim Salty Mask Could Fight Coronavirus

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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