9 new coronaviruses discovered

(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has discovered previously unknown RNA viruses, including nine new coronaviruses. This is reported in an article published in the journal Nature.

As part of the Serratus project, researchers analyzed the gene sequences in 5.7 million biological samples (from ice cores to manure) collected around the world over 13 years using the AWS supercomputer, which is equivalent in power to 22.5 thousand processors.

The goal was to find the gene encoding RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP), which indicates the presence of RNA viruses.

Scientists have discovered about 132 thousand RNA viruses (previously only 15 thousand were known), including nine new types of coronaviruses.

All coronaviruses have been found in specimens associated with aquatic vertebrates, including the axolotl, seahorse, pufferfish, and others.

The existing databases of genetic sequences exceed the volume of 20 petabases, that is, 20 by 10 to the 15th power of DNA letters, and grow in geometric sequence.

The cloud-based AWS supercomputer was able to align sequences (i.e., compare homologous regions of two or more strands of DNA) with ultra-high throughput.

According to the authors of the work, the study of the Earth’s virome (the totality of viral genomes on a planetary scale) is important to prepare for the next pandemic.

The analyzed data covers only 0.1 percent of all types of viruses, whose number is estimated from hundreds of millions to a trillion.

The researchers made available free access to 883,502 sequences that code for RdRP, including the polymerase of 131,957 RNA viruses, to improve the diagnosis of potentially dangerous viral infections.

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