After genetic analysis of samples taken from the oceans, the researchers found at least 5,504 new RNA viruses. This type of microorganism is known to cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to Covid-19, which is responsible for the current pandemic. They also infect plants and animals that can, in some cases, transmit diseases to humans.
As Britain’s Daily Express shows, these viruses evolve at much faster rates than DNA, and scientists are still learning more about them. But unlike humans and other multicellular organisms, viruses do not have unique short strands of DNA, a kind of genetic “strip code” that facilitates identification.
To overcome this limitation, we decided to identify the gene that encodes a specific protein that allows the virus to replicate its genetic material. It is the one protein that all RNA viruses have in common, as it plays an essential role in how they spread. However, each RNA virus has subtle differences in the gene that encodes a protein that can help distinguish them.
Experts examined the Tara Oceans International Project’s database, which contains plankton RNA sequences collected during four years of offshore expeditions. 44,000 genes have been identified that encode the virus protein, the Daily Express has revealed.
Then an algorithm (artificial intelligence) allowed them to systematically organize these sequences. “We identified a total of 5,504 new marine RNA viruses and multiplied the number of known phyla (sections) from five to 10. Mapping these new sequences geographically showed that two of the two new phyla were particularly abundant in different ocean regions, with regional preferences in temperate waters. and tropical: Taraviricotta, named after the Tara expeditions, and in the Arctic Ocean, Arctiviricota,” say the scientists, citing the British tabloid.
According to experts, Taraviricota may be the missing link in the evolution of RNA viruses that researchers have been searching for for so long, linking two different known branches of this type of microorganism.
The Daily Express reports that the oceans contain nearly 200,000 different viral groups. While most are harmless to humans, they can cause disease outbreaks in marine life, including whales and crustaceans.
There are currently more than 219 types of viruses capable of infecting humans and a few of them are found in water. Many of these conditions can be treated, especially if caught early.
Strict hand and food hygiene is the best way to avoid infection with viruses.
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