Scientists have discovered a mysterious never-before-seen virus in a lake in Brazil and have named it Yaravirus, after a mermaid who lured soldiers underwater to their death.
Yaravirus, named after Yara the “mother of waters” in the mythology of the Tupi-Guarani indigenous tribes in Brazil, has left scientists ‘puzzled’ after they discovered that more than 90 percent of its genes had never been recorded by scientists.
The virus was documented by scientists in January, after they unexpectedly came across it at Lake Pampulha, an artificial lake in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
The team of scientists discovered 74 genes in total and only six of those had been previously recorded in public databases before, slightly resembling viral genes — the other 68 genes were completely new.
For now, Yaravirus (Yaravirus brasiliensis) doesn’t appear to pose any threat to humans. For a start, it cannot transfer to humans – only between amoeba.
A search of over 8,500 genetic material from across the globe in a scientific database offered no clues as to what Yaravirus might be closely related to.
The team, led by Brazil‘s Federal University of Minas Gerais, said;
Yaravirus expands our knowledge of the diversity of DNA viruses. Yaravirus was taken from a single-celled creature called amoeba, which live in damp environments.
The scientists speculate Yaravirus is the first isolated case of an unknown group of amoebal virus.
The discovery comes amid the outbreak of a new killer virus, Coronavirus, now known as Covid-19 across the world which started in Wuhan province of China.
COVID-19 coronavirus was first discovered in December 2019, and has since, spread to 28 countries and territories, killing more than 1,000 people and infecting over 44,500.
The findings of Yaravirus are reported in bioRxiv.