New, Unknown Virus Was Discovered in Brazil

A new virus has just been found. Its genetic material is a mystery to scientists. Why is that? The newly discovered virus is full of not very well known genes, unfamiliar you might say. These unusual genes are not part of the viral research records, which makes the virus new to science.

The newly discovered infection is called Yaravirus. The newly discovered infection originated from Brazil and was found in the Pampulha lake in Belo Horizonte. Its name is related to the Brazilian mythology of Iara, the lady of the lake. Same to the Brazilian siren, the Yaravirus Brasiliensis is a mystery to science.

Why is Yaravirus Brasiliensis such a mystery to science? According to experts, the virus is “a new lineage of an amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny.”

More about the new virus found in Brazil

A team of virologists conducted the study that helped discover the Yaravirus in the artificial lake of Brazil. Part of the study team are virologists Bernard La Scola from Aix-Marseille University in France, and Jônatas S. Abrahão from the Brazil’s Federal University of Minas Gerais; who also contributed to the discovery of another viral virus called Tupanvirus found in extreme aquatic environments.

Yaravirus is not part of the category of giant viruses, which are viruses formed of large particles. This newly discovered virus consists of 80 nm-sized particles. What struck scientists is one of its kind genomes.

“Most of the known viruses of amoeba have been seen to share many features that eventually prompted authors to classify them into common evolutionary groups,” the authors write in the pre-print paper.

“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.”

Yaravirus’ mysterious genes

“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,” reveal the researchers. “Following the current metagenomic protocols for viral detection, Yaravirus would not even be recognized as a viral agent.”

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