In the wake of the Coronavirus health emergency, the newly discovered “Yaravirus” in Brazil is causing confusion in the science community.
The mystery virus, harvested from an amoeba in the Brazilian man-made Lake Pampulha, was suspiciously smaller than other viruses typically known to attack amoeba. Over 90% of the virus’s genes had never been described before, according to Science Alert. Only six genes bore a distant relation to other discoveries. This means that the Yaravirus is made up of orphan genes, meaning they have no detectable homologues in any other lineages. (RELATED: The Chinese Doctor Who Warned About Coronavirus Outbreak Is Dead)
The name “Yara” was given to the virus by the discovery team to mean “Mother of All Waters,” which accurately depicts the uniqueness of the findings.
“Using standard protocols, our very first genetic analysis was unable to find any recognizable sequences of capsid or other classical viral genes in Yaravirus,” the researchers explained in their report.
“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, including one encoding a novel major capsid protein.” (RELATED: First Coronavirus Death Outside Of China Reported)
Scientists discovered a mysterious virus in Brazil, #Yaravirus.
— Complex (@Complex) February 10, 2020
The discovery speaks to “how much we still need to understand” about viruses, said one of the researchers, Jônatas Abrahão, a virologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil to Science Magazine. Abrahão made his discovery while attempting to hunt down giant viruses.
It is unclear what the effects are on human health thus far, but the scientists are working hard to find out. With the size and genetic abnormalities that Yaravirus possesses, this is completely uncharted territory.