Israel researchers discover 100000 new RNA viruses.
RNA viruses infect cells through injecting DNA into the cytoplasms of host cells in order to translate and reproduce viral proteins.
Since the introduction of COVID-19, the viruses have been given a very negative image in the eyes of the public. These small microorganisms living in the intracellular space are among the most abundant biological organisms on Earth and are responsible for causing disease in livestock, humans, and even crops. Together with model bacteria (phages) they are being studied in depth.
However, not all are harmful. The majority of the viruses don’t cause harm and can cause bacterial infections – some are even present in our bodies, without knowing it. Some are able to fight more harmful viruses.
In a world new development, Tel Aviv University (TAU) scientists have discovered more than 100,000 new kinds of viruses that were previously undiscovered to scientists. They even identified the species they’re likely to target. These viruses were found in the global data on environmental conditions from soil samples and oceans, lakes, and different ecosystems.
Researchers believe that their research could assist with the creation of antimicrobial medications as well as in protecting against harmful parasites and fungi.
Tel Aviv University team identifies some 100,000 new types of viruses, a ninefold increase in the number of RNA viruses known to science. https://t.co/fjHBFuG4Yd
— Israel National News – Arutz Sheva (@ArutzSheva_En) December 26, 2022
What is the difference between RNA and DNA viruses?
In contrast to DNA viruses, the variety and function of the role of RNA viruses in ecosystems is not fully comprehended. Recently meta transcriptome analysis (bulk RNA sequencing of whole communities of microorganisms) have revealed huge amounts of previously undiscovered RNA viruses.
DNA viruses, such as poxvirus are packaged in their polymerase machinery so that they are able to replicate in the cytoplasm of the host. The RNA virus infects cells by injecting the cytoplasm of host cells to replicate and transcribe viral proteins.
The research was conducted by doctoral candidate Uri Neri under the supervision of a Professor. Uri Gophna of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at TAU’s Wise Faculty of Life Sciences. The study was conducted in conjunction with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) located in the Department of Energy and the Pasteur Institute in France.
The study is published in the famous journal Cell under the heading “Expansion of the Global RNA Virome Reveals Diverse Clades of Bacteriophages” and included data taken by more than 100 scientists across the world.
The viruses are genetic parasites which means they need to be infected with a living cell in order to replicate their genetic code, create new viruses and complete their infection cycle.
According to Neri the study employed advanced computational techniques to extract genetic data gathered from a variety of locations around the globe such as the ocean, in geysers, sewage, soil and much more.
Researchers developed a sophisticated computational tool that distinguishes the DNA of RNA viruses as well as the hosts and utilized it to study the vast amount of data. The findings allowed researchers to understand how the viruses experienced different processes of acclimation throughout their evolution to be able to adapt to various hosts.
Researchers were able to find viruses that could be having a pathogenic effect on various microorganisms, which opens possibilities of using viruses to manage them.
“The system we developed makes it possible to perform in-depth evolutionary analyses and to understand how the various RNA viruses have developed throughout evolutionary history,” explained Gophna.
“Furthermore, compared to DNA viruses, the diversity and roles of RNA viruses in microbial ecosystems are not well understood.
In our study, we found that RNA viruses are not unusual in the evolutionary landscape and, in fact, that in some aspects they are not that different from DNA viruses. This opens the door for future research, and for a better understanding of how viruses can be harnessed for use in medicine and agriculture.