Currently, the whole world is battling against the coronavirus outbreak, which has already killed over 800 people in China and affected almost 37,198, said China's National Health Commission. As per the recent reports, 89 deaths and 2,656 new cases were recorded in the preceding 24 hours, most of them in the epicentre of the coronavirus, Hubei Province.
But such outbreaks are nothing new, as the viruses are some of the most mysterious and tiniest lifeforms on earth. Recently, scientists have discovered one such organism which has no recognizable genes that makes it the strongest of all known viruses, while another group of researchers have discovered thousands of new viruses hiding out in the tissues of dozens of animals.
The virus and the world
When scientists hunt for new viruses and their DNA sequences, sometimes they get a lot more than they expected. Recently Jônatas Abrahão, a virologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte made this discovery while hunting down giant viruses, found in Austrian.
It should be noted that these microbes, some the size of bacteria, were first discovered in 2003. Abrahão along his colleagues in a local artificial lake found the giant viruses, as well as a virus that was unlike most that infect in amoebae, which was named as Yaravirus and this name, means the "mother of waters" as per the Indigenous Tupi-Guarani mythology.
Along with its small size, the team of researchers found the weird facts about its genome. In the study published on the bioRxiv, the team of researchers have mentioned that they noticed none of its genes matched any scientists had come across before.
Elodie Ghedin of New York University who looks into the wastewater and in respiratory systems to search for viruses stated that over 95 percent of the viruses in sewage data have no matches to reference genomes [in databases] and mentioned that "We seem to be discovering new viruses all the time."
As per the researchers, some of these Yaravirus's genes looks similar to a giant virus. But to the scientists, it is still not clear how these two viruses are related. As per Abrahão, along with his colleagues, he is still investigating other aspects of the novel virus's lifestyle.
A hideout for virus
While one team of researchers are trying to hunt the Yaravirus, Christopher Buck and graduate student Michael Tisza, virologists at the National Cancer Institute are currently trying to search in animal tissues where viruses keep their genetic material in a circle. As per the researchers, the so-called circular viruses include papillomaviruses, which is an ancient taxonomic family of non-enveloped DNA viruses, collectively known as papillomaviruses.
While one of these, known as human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer, another virus is usually harmless to people. However, Buck has found some evidence which shows that the latter may be linked to bladder cancer in patients with kidney transplants and in other people. It should be mentioned that to find these dangerous micro-organisms, researchers have isolated viral particles from dozens of tissue samples from people and animals. They also screened them for circular genomes.
Later the team confirmed that the virus' DNA by looking for a gene that codes for a shell of the viruses. They also noted that these genetic sequences are often unrecognizable. But as per a computer program, written by Tisza, it can predict which genes were most likely to code for the distinctive folds of these shells.
As per a newly published study researchers have found around 2500 circular viruses and among them, 600 viruses are new to the science. But it is still not clear that if any of these come in the contact with human what will happen.
As per Buck, this newly published data should allow scientists as well as doctors to start making those connections. In addition to that, Abrahão said, the approach is a very important tool "To learn the distribution of hundreds or thousands of viral genomes."