Medusa Virus Discovered in Japan

Stephanie Schnebly, Contributor

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New scientific discovery has found a new virus that causes single-celled amoebas to turn into stone. This new species has therefore been called the Medusa virus. It was discovered at some hot springs in Japan and was in the mud samples scientists had collected nearby. The new virus comes from a subgroup of a virus called “Giant Viruses” which only attack singled celled organisms, like amoebas. Thus making this virus seem harmless for humans.

This new discovery was named after the Greek monster, Medusa, who had snakes for hair and could turn people into stone with simply a glance towards her victims’ direction. Since the virus turns the amoebas into “a stone-like, hardened outer shell and immediately has it enter a dormant state known as encystment.”(SYFY)the monster Medusa was a gorgon sister who was the only out of the three that was mortal, due to her reputation, Perseus, another legend, had to find her and kill her, Perseus beheaded her and thus the famed story of medusa gained its popularity. It is still unclear to what scientists must do with this new virus in society, but it has been found after many decades of searching for something new such as Perseus and his looking for Medusa herself. But the new virus has also been given the name of the famed Medusa for the reason of its ability to turn amoebas into stone. The Medusa virus was also featured in the D.C. comics universe as a deadly virus created by Kryptonians, however, the effects of it were overly exaggerated and made it seem as if it affected humans severely. The true virus, however, has nothing in common except for its name with the Medusa virus of the D.C. universe.

The virus was discovered by “a team of researchers led by Masaharu Takemura at Tokyo University of Science and Hiroyuki Ogata at Kyoto University in Japan” (Nature) who were not intending to discover this new virus at all. The new discovery was proceded with the proposal to create “a new category: Medusaviridae.”(SYFY) which is still part of the giant virus subgroup. This new proposal was due to the virus’s unique quality of the virus, meaning it “still preserves the ancient footprints of the virus-host evolutionary interactions,”(SYFY) which is not what many other giant viruses do. According to SYFY, “a number of genes in the Medusa virus were also found in its amoeba hosts. This suggests that it has infected these amoebas since ‘ancient times’ and that the two microorganisms have exchanged genes over the course of evolution.” meaning scientists should have been able to see traces of the virus within the amoeba and could have been discovered sooner. But now the new technology is able to allow further study of this new virus and help people become more knowledgeable over what mother nature can and has done throughout the times.

Why the virus works the way it does is still a mystery, but “further tests are being conducted to learn more about its rigidifying properties.”(SYFY) though this new virus has only affected amoebas, it still is highly recommended that all people do not go anywhere where the virus might be due to lack of knowing what it can do to other species. it has been found in mud surrounding Japanese hot springs, so they should be avoided when traveling through that area. How is this discovery going to benefit humanity besides knowing there are more viruses yet to be discovered? Only time will be able to tell what will happen next with the new discovery of the Medusa Virus.

Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00591-2

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/newly-discovered-medusavirus-transforms-amoebas-into-stone

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Stephanie Schnebly, Contributor

I am a Junior who aspires to be an animator. I have five birds, two dogs and two fish. I usually draw in my free time but I also like to play video games....

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