Scientists have identified an enigmatic virus whose genome seems to be almost entirely new to science, populated by unfamiliar genes that have never before been documented in viral research.
The so-called Yaravirus, named after Yara – or Iara, a water-queen figure in Brazilian mythology – was recovered from Lake Pampulha, an artificial lake in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte.
While Yaravirus (Yaravirus brasiliensis) may be no supernatural siren, the virus could prove to be just as mysterious as the water nymph of legend.
That's because the virus constitutes "a new lineage of amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny," the research team explains in a new pre-print paper about the discovery.
Two of the senior members of that team – virologists Bernard La Scola from Aix-Marseille University in France, and Jônatas S. Abrahão from Brazil's Federal University of Minas Gerais – ought to know what they're talking about.