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Hmmm, we just discovered 5,000 new viruses in the ocean

Hmmm, we just discovered 5,000 new viruses in the ocean

Unfortunately, the viruses that we know about at the moment are still few compared to those on this planet, and they can still harm animals, plants and, of course, humans. A research team recently identified 5,504 new types of viruses in ocean waters.

Viruses were found using a machine learning algorithm designed to study 35,000 water samples from around the world. The viruses most studied are usually those that contain DNA, but many new viruses consist of RNA.

Clouds Hill Imaging Ltd.Getty Images

“RNA viruses are notorious for the diseases they cause to humans, ranging from the common cold to COVID-19 and also infecting plants and animals,” the authors wrote in a statement. “RNA viruses evolve at much faster rates than DNA viruses. And while scientists have classified hundreds of thousands of DNA viruses in their natural ecosystems, RNA viruses have been relatively unstudied.”

Researchers have proposed five new classifications for some of the new viruses that do not fit into the five existing phyla. New phyla include Taraviricota (containing most of the newly discovered species), Pomiviricota, Paraxenoviricota, Wamoviricota, and Arctiviricota.

Overall, the new discovery could help virologists understand the evolutionary history of RNA viruses and even provide a glimpse into how early life evolved on Earth. By further planning where the RNA viruses are, scientists can understand how viruses interact with other organisms on Earth.

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