Scientists report a new virus was found in Brazil that contains genes previously unknown to man. Named after the Tupi water-goddess, Yara, 90% of the genes comprising the virus were previously unknown, according to a report published this week by bioRxiv.org. Such of the genes are known as orphan genes as they lack any similarity to other genes.
Only six genes out of the 74 found resemble genes found in public databases, bioRxiv.org reports. The virus might be a distant, much altered offspring of the Acanthamoeba or a member of that group that took a brand new evolutionary path.
Two of the scientists involved in the new study, Bernard La Scola of Aix-Marseille University and Jonatas Abrahao of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, discovered Giant Viruses in 2018, Science Alert reports.
A giant virus is a virus with very large capsids or protein shells that contain an entire virus. Giant viruses are also able to synthesize proteins and hence repair, replicate and translate DNA. Earlier virus theory was that they cannot do that.
In the past viruses were mostly seen in relation to their hosts and seen as simple mechanisms. With more research, their complexity and potential is starting to become a better understood.
The Tupi people are indigenous to the Amazon rainforest. In their culture, Yara is a type of mermaid.