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Tech & Science 'Puzzling' Virus Found In Brazil Has Genetic Material Not Seen In Anything Else

01:47  12 february  2020
01:47  12 february  2020 Source:   gizmodo.com.au

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Scientists in Brazil have discovered a virus which appears to be almost entirely new, consisting of unrecognizable genes that have been, until now

The findings of a new virus by Brazilian researchers have ' puzzled ' the scientific community, consisting of unrecognizable genes , a new study revealed The "mysterious" virus was discovered in amoebas in an artificial lake in Brazil has been considered the world's smallest lifeforms, because

Various images of Yaravirus under an electron microscope (Image: Boratto, et al, bioRxiv)© Image: Boratto, et al, bioRxiv Various images of Yaravirus under an electron microscope (Image: Boratto, et al, bioRxiv)

Scientists in Brazil say they’ve made a mysterious discovery. They claim to have found a virus made of genetic material never before seen elsewhere. But you likely have nothing to fear from this virus: It seems to only hunt amoebas.

The find is detailed in a paper released last month on the preprint website bioRxiv. Research showcased on bioRxiv hasn’t yet gone through peer review, and the data on the virus’s genetic structure, or genome, hasn’t been made public yet. This doesn’t mean the findings aren’t legitimate (nor does something being peer reviewed mean it’s definitely “true”), it just means a little more scepticism is warranted upfront.

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Although the newly uncovered virus was found to belong to the amoeba class, 90 percent of its genes are The find is all about "a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny", the "Most of the known viruses of amoeba have been seen to share many features that eventually

Viruses are found wherever there is life and have probably existed since living cells first evolved Although they have genes , they do not have a cellular structure, which is often seen as the basic unit of life. The genetic material (typically single-stranded RNA, but ssDNA in some cases) is bound

According to the paper, the DNA-based virus was found in amoebas living in the muddy waters of an artificial lake in the town of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, called Pampulha. The early name given to the virus—Yaravirus brasiliensis—is a reference to Yara, an important mythical figure among the indigenous tribes that once resided in Brazil, the authors wrote.

They were unable to find any likely relatives to Yaravirus after searching publicly available databases of viruses. And when they dug deeper, they found that more than 90 per cent of its genes had never been documented before or had any connections to other known genes. Genes with no known evolutionary history are called ORFan genes in microbiology (pronounced orphan), potentially making Yaravirus an almost entirely orphan microbe.

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Recent genetic studies have demonstrated differences across populations not just in the genetic determinants of simple traits such as skin color This study has been joined by others finding genetic predictors of behavior. If scientists can be confident of anything , it is that whatever we currently

Today viral genes continue to produce a variety of mysterious proteins in the body. But sometimes these viral genes manage to switch on anyway. In many kinds of tumor cells, for instance, scientists find proteins produced by endogenous retroviruses.

“Here we report the discovery of Yaravirus, a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny,” the authors wrote.

Scientists have found all sorts of viruses living inside amoebas, the usually single-celled lifeforms that move using finger-like projections from their body.

These viruses have all been much bigger, genetically speaking, than the viruses that infect plants, animals, and people, leading to their classification as giant viruses. Giant viruses aren’t just bigger—they’re much more complex, allowing them to do things other viruses typically can’t do. Where in the history of life these viruses arose, including whether giant viruses could represent close relatives to the ancestor that gave rise to all viruses, is still unknown.

The researchers behind this new paper had previously discovered another group of giant viruses, called tupanviruses. But to make things even weirder, Yaravirus is far too small to be a giant virus, heightening the mystery of where exactly it came from. Provided the researchers are correct in their analysis, that could mean Yaravirus is either a very strange member of the giant virus family or the first known virus of its kind.

In any case, the authors wrote, the discovery “reflects the variability existing in the viral world and how much potential of new viral genomes are still to be discovered.”

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