Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover two new groups of viruses

02.06.2015

Researchers at the University of Bonn and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have discovered two new groups of viruses within the Bunyavirus family in the tropical forest of Ivory Coast. Previously only five groups responsible for serious illnesses in humans and animals were known. Most are spread through blood-feeding insects. Based on the discovered viruses researchers conclude that the ancester to all bunyaviruses must have existed in arthropods such as insects. The results are now being published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” (PNAS).

The bunyavirus family includes five different groups of viruses which trigger serious illnesses in humans and animals and which can also cause significant damage to vegetables, such as tomatoes. The first viruses of this family were discovered in a place known as Bunyamwera in Uganda, from which they derive their name.


Electron microscope image of the Ferak virus.

Image: Dr. Andreas Kurth/Robert Koch Institute Berlin


Electron microscope image of the Jonchet virus. "Jonchet" means "rod" in French.

© Image: Marco Marklewitz/UKB

"The most well-known bunyaviruses include, for example, the Rift Valley fever virus, which can cause febrile illnesses with severe bleeding in humans," says Dr. Sandra Junglen from the Bonn Institute of Virology, also affiliated with the German Center for Infection Research. In 2011, the "Schmallenberg virus" gained much attention: also a part of the Bunyavirus family and transmitted by gnats, it caused severe fetal malformations in ruminant animals including sheep in the German Sauerland region.

Not in Schmallenberg but instead in the African tropical forest of the Ivory Coast, where the virologist has been conducting research for more than ten years, she set off on the search for new viruses. Because most bunyaviruses are transmitted by blood-sucking insects, Dr. Junglen caught more than 7500 mosquitoes. Sorted according to species and sites of capture, the scientists combined the captured mosquitoes into 432 mixed samples. In 26 of these samples, the researchers discovered particles of unknown bunyaviruses.

Agents of human disease have developed from insect viruses

"These were two groups of as-yet-unknown viruses which we called Jonchet virus and Ferak virus," reports the virologist. The scientists obtained fragments of the viral genetic material from the insect samples and joined these fragments together like a puzzle, thus reconstructing the entire genome sequence. "That alone took four years," reported lead authors Marco Marklewitz and Florian Zirkel. During the comparison of the genetic information with other viruses, it was found that Jonchet and Ferak viruses are two phylogenetically independent bunyavirus lineages.

How dangerous are the two new groups of viruses – can they be easily transmitted to humans and animals? To answer these questions, the scientists went in a new direction: They performed infection trials in a large number of cell cultures at different temperature levels.

While pathogenic bunyaviruses can multiply at temperatures that include the human body temperature, growth of Jonchet and Ferak viruses ceases above 32 degrees Celsius, making it unlikely that the viruses infect humans or other vertebrates. "In addition, we reconstructed the evolutionary history of host associations of the entire family of viruses, demonstrating for the first time that viruses affecting vertebrates developed from arthropod-specific viruses," says the researcher from the University of Bonn Hospital.

Simplified test to test novel viruses for risk of human infection

Triggered by epidemics such as SARS and Ebola, virologists are now reaching out to discover the plethora of unknown viruses lurking in natural reservoirs such as insects, in an attempt to forecast pandemic risks. „We hope our temperature test for estimating the risk of vertebrate infection can be useful for assessing other viruses that keep being discovered," says Dr. Junglen.

Publication: “Evolutionary and phenotypic analysis of live virus isolates suggests arthropod origin of a pathogenic RNA virus family”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1502036112

Media contact information:

Dr. Sandra Junglen
Institute of Virology
University of Bonn Medical Centre
German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)
Tel. 0228/28713068
E-Mail: Junglen@virology-bonn.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.virology-bonn.de Institute of Virology at University of Bonn Medical Centre

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>