Scientists have identified a 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 strange virus was found in amoeba taken from Lake Pampulha, an artificial lake in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte. The new virus was given the name "Yaravirus," after Yara or Iara, a water-queen figure in Brazilian mythology.
While Yaravirus (Yaravirus brasiliensis) may be no supernatural siren, the virus could prove to be just as mysterious as the water nymph of legend, according to Science Alert.
The discovery is "a new lineage of an amoebal virus with a puzzling origin and phylogeny," the research team explains in the open-access journal bioRxiv.
Two of the senior members of the team that discovered the Yaravirus also helped to discover another water-dwelling viral novelty: Tupanvirus, a giant virus found in extreme aquatic habitats, two years ago. Giant viruses are different from regular viruses because of their huge capsids - the protein shells that encapsulate virions - virus particles.