Our planet is a unique refuge of life in the universe that sometimes manifests itself in the most unusual forms. One of the most unusual biological findings of recent times has been the discovery of a completely new type of virus, the properties of which do not resemble those of genes that have previously been examined by humans. Where does the giant virus that mainly infects amoeba come from, and can it be a traveler from another planet who came to Earth with the help of a meteorite that somehow survived in the atmosphere?
New mysterious virus discovered in Brazil
Giant viruses are unique microorganisms that can be viewed under the microscope. Because of their size, viruses were considered a subspecies of bacteria that lived in the British air cooling system for some time. However, an examination of the genetic properties of these organisms showed that they had a particularly large genome and could integrate into other protistic microorganisms.
One of these unusual viruses was recently discovered in the stream of Lake Pampulha in Brazil when a team of biologists collected water samples to find new types of microorganisms. Despite the fact that the detected virus is gigantic and mainly affects amoeba, its unique size can hardly be called large: the diameter of the virus is only 80 nanometers, reports lifescience.com.
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When analyzing the microorganism's genome, scientists discovered that it had a unique gene signature that had never been found in other viruses. According to the study, only 6 of the 74 genes in the detected organism showed similarities to other known genes. "Yara virus" – as the new tiny "giant" virus was called – questions the generally accepted classification of DNA viruses.
Due to the fact that the envelope of the virus is not similar to any of the previously known proteins, researchers cannot determine the exact origin of the virus. For this purpose, the scientists plan to take into account all currently known virus signatures and to compare their properties with the newly discovered microorganism. Fortunately, yara virus cannot infect and damage human cells. In addition, the virus found can be beneficial to the environment and can help process nutrients or control pests.
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Despite the fact that it may take some time to determine the origin of the virus, the researchers hope to continue analyzing the properties of the microorganism to understand how it interacts with amoebas and other potential hosts. Experts argue that the discovery of a unique virus again proves that humanity is just beginning to explore the full range of living organisms on Earth. And maybe one day the yaravirus discovered in Brazil will be reliable evidence of the theory of panspermia, which you can read more about in this article.