Scientists Discover Baffling Virus in Brazil with No Recognizable Genes

This sort of virus has never been identified in viral research before.
Derya Ozdemir

A new form of virus with almost no recognizable genes has currently left scientists all around the world confused and excited to discover more.

Scientists found the enigmatic virus after collecting amoebae in an artificial lake in Brazil and realizing that some of the viruses are smaller than the usual.

The virus was rightfully named "Yaravirus" by the team. "Yara" means "siren", a beautiful mermaid from Brazilian mythology who sings her songs to attract sailors. Then she pulls them underwater to live with her forever and ever. Thankfully, virus doesn't seem to perform such behavior. 


After sequencing the yaravirus genome, 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 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.

According to the researchers, the amount of unknown proteins composing the Yaravirus particles reflects the variability existing in the viral world. Our knowledge of viruses are incredibly small, and we have a lot to learn. It seems that there is more potential for discovering new viral genomes than ever thought before.

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