While the whole world is closely watching the spread of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China and other countries, new development is baffling Scientists. Scientists have identified an enigmatic Yaravirus whose genome is almost entirely new to science, populated by unfamiliar genes that have never before been documented in viral research.
The so-called Yaravirus, named after Yara – or Iara, a water-queen figure in Brazilian mythology. It was recovered from Lake Pampulha, an artificial lake in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
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,” the authors write, adding that it may be the first in “a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny
Why Yaravirus is baffling scientists?
After the sequencing of the Yaravirus genome was done, scientists discovered over 90% of it was formed of the genes that had never been found before. Their findings are reported in bioRxiv.
“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. Following the current metagenomic protocols for viral detection, Yaravirus would not even be recognized as a viral agent.” the researchers say.
Therefore, while Yaravirus is similar to giant viruses in some ways, though it is not clear how they are related. Scientists can only speculate on how they evolved into a completely different genome.
The new discovery, Yaravirus, does not appear to be a giant virus, composed as it is of small 80 nm-sized particles. But what’s notable about it is how seemingly unique its genome is
In recent years, virologists and other researchers have discovered a variety of new viruses that challenge traditional thinking, including so-called “giant viruses” (named for their large protein shells, not their deadliness to humans).
These giant viruses possess a far more complex genome than scientists could have predicted, based on humanity’s knowledge of normal viruses, and are capable of repairing and replicating their own DNA.
According to the researchers, the amount of unknown proteins composing the Yaravirus particles reflects the variability existing in the complex viral world. Human knowledge of viruses are incredibly small, and they still have a lot to learn.
It seems that there is more potential for discovering new viral genomes than ever thought before. This virus doesn’t infect humans and is not considered dangerous, is something we should be happy about.