A team of researchers has discovered more than 200 viruses in fish, frogs and other reptiles, some of which transmit diseases such as influenza and hemorrhagic fevers. The researchers also traced the origin of these RNA viruses, which date back hundreds of millions of years, when most modern animals began to appear.
A team of researchers led by Mya Breitbart, a virologist at the Universidad del Sur. Florida in Tampa, highlights its discovery RNA viruses and their evolution over the years. Studying these viruses can help predict how these viruses can infect humans in the future. So far, researchers have been investigating viruses that infect humans, mammals and birds. This is the first time they turn to other vertebrates such as amphibians, reptiles and fish to understand how these viruses have evolved over millennia.
Edward Holmes, evolutionary virologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, and co-author of the study – notes that the appearance of viruses is actually much more widespread and widespread than previously thought. Previous studies have found RNA viruses in both tritons and salamanders. But researchers here observed almost 190 other creatures, jawless fish such as lampreys, for example, that have evolved little compared to their evolutionary ancestors, to reptiles like turtles. By analyzing the RNA extracted from the intestines, liver, lungs or gills of the animals, the team discovered 214 RNA viruses that had never been registered before.
Most of these viruses belong to families of viruses that are known to infect birds and mammals. For example, some fish harbor viruses that are related to Ebola, which affects humans and other primates. "It's amazing," says Holmes, but that does not mean that these viruses pose a threat to human health.
Climbing the evolutionary tree of these new RNA viruses, and comparing them with that of their vertebrate hosts, the two split stories: the vertebrates migrated from sea to land, as did their microscopic hitchhikers.
The RNA viruses that infect humans today have probably evolved from viruses that infected our vertebrate ancestors 500 million years ago, the researchers say. The discovery of these viruses will help scientists and doctors in the diagnosis and accurate treatment of diseases caused by viruses. Remember that many serious human diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, SARS and influenza are caused by RNA viruses.