Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
A mysterious 80 nm amoeba virus with a near-complete “ORFan genome” (biorxiv.org)
37 points by fbn79 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments



The title kind of makes it sound like "As far as we can tell, the virus has no genes," but the actual discovery here is that the virus doesn't share any genes with any other viruses that we know of. Which is still weird, but far less mysterious than it sounded.


> Which is still weird, but far less mysterious than it sounded.

Mysterious, maybe, but what is its effectiveness against humans and how long until it is recognized?


this is an amoeba virus. most viruses do not harm humans. harming or killing your host is generally a bad evolutionary strategy so viruses that do this are relatively rare enough that unless a piece of writing explicitly identifies specific harm to humans, you can assume it most likely isn’t harmful and never will be.


> this is an amoeba virus. most viruses do not harm humans. harming or killing your host is generally a bad evolutionary strategy so viruses that do this are relatively rare enough that unless a piece of writing explicitly identifies specific harm to humans, you can assume it most likely isn’t harmful and never will be.

Can you say this virus is not harmful to humans?


Amoeba is almost as far away from humans as you can get.

It's like a Z80 Spectrum virus infecting a Windows computer.


Well, macrophages are a lot like amoeba. And we already know that diseases that can infect amoeba sometimes infect macrophages.

From amoeba to macrophages: exploring the molecular mechanisms of Legionella pneumophila infection in both hosts https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949285

Ancient bacteria–amoeba relationships and pathogenic animal bacteria https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/jou...


I hadn't realized before that the virus analogy carried that far. That's pretty cool.


Viruses by definition can’t replicate without a host’s help so the software/operating system analogy is very apt.


Don't be carried away by their rhetoric.


So—no, you can't say that it is non-infectious to humans.


and you can't say there isn't an invisible pink unicorn standing next to me.


Sure, but you can say so with near certainty.


and I can also say with the exact same near certainty this virus isn't dangerous to humans.

You can prove me wrong by showing only one human getting sick from the virus.

However, there's no way to prove it is not dangerous to any humans. there's no possible proof for that, same as there's no possible proof that there's no invisible pink unicorn. I can say nobody has gotten sick from this virus, so far, but that doesn't preclude the possibility of one of the 7 billion humans on the planet possibly having a weirdly specific allergy to this particular virus, nor that it isn't possible for a human to be born with a mutation that makes them vulnerable to this virus. Goal posts can always shift further and further away. and same as the pink unicorn, I don't need to take the concern seriously. Both are unfalsifiable claims. in the strictest logical sense, they're not false. but there's no way to prove they are false either, so worrying about a potentially dangerous virus is just as reasonable as worrying about dangerous invisible pink unicorns, menacing orbital teapots, flying spaghetti monsters or the vengeful diety of your choice. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but if we ran in a panic at every unfalsifiable claim, nobody would ever leave their beds.


Sure, I am aware of the lack of existence of no black swan proofs, I am simply pointing out the outbreak coverage seems more comparable to say the ebola outbreak than coverage the virality and fatality should imply, ie that of a seasonal flu.


you literally did not do that. If you need to explain that you were being ironic on the internet, you might need to consider the possibility that you are bad at it and you shouldn't do it. And if you're making a comparison between this random virus and coronavirus, that's still a terrible and bad argument. If you don't like sensational news stories get off whatever platform is promoting them.

I don't think the parent commenter should have the burden of proof here...


You can't prove a negative. But since taking a basic biology class in highschool 25 years ago, I haven't heard of any radical new discoveries in virology that would indicate viruses becoming more harmful than 99.9% benign. Highschool biology is definitely not the end all be all. If you find anything, it might make a cool thing to post on hacker news.


By the way, the name (Yara) is a reference to a mythical mermaid from Amazonian folklore.


Related (different info, so not exactly a dupe): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22276105


I didn't know an amoeba could be a virus.


It's just how you state what the virus infects. Like a potato virus, a protist virus, an apple virus, an Apple virus or a Windows virus.


I'm no biologist, but I think it's a virus which infects amoeba. By definition, viruses aren't alive, and amoebas are.


> By definition, viruses aren't alive, and amoebas are.

Interesting, I thought we don't have a definition for "alive".


There's no universally accepted definition but most biologists would say that viruses are not alive because they lack metabolism.


right they are "not alive", but do have a "life cycle".

How else would one define what a single log reduction (one tenth of virus particles surviving) means per given "UV dose" or fluence.


A dragonfly isn’t a dragon it’s a fly.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: