Scientists woke up 48.5 thousand year-old viruses in Siberia

Scientists woke up 48.5 thousand year-old viruses in Siberia

November 28, 2022

Virologists say pathogens are still contagious.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France revived viruses from permafrost samples near the mouth of the Lena river in the Yakutsk region and Kamchatka back in 2014. Among others, the researchers resurrected three new viruses from frozen mammoth dung and a piece of permafrost stuffed with large amounts of mammoth fur. Two more new viruses have been isolated from frozen Siberian wolf stomach contents.

The youngest sample is 27 thousand years old, and the oldest one was in a frozen state for 48.5 thousand years. However, the team argues that viruses can remain contagious even after a long stay in the permafrost, they are able to invade cells and multiply, reports, citing a preliminary publication on the bioRxiv preprint server. The article has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Researchers believe ancient viruses need to be studied as glaciers and permafrost melt due to climate warming, and this could unleash dangerous unknown pathogens against which humans have no immunity.

Earlier, Canadian microbiologists found giant viruses in the isolated lake Milne Fjord in the Arctic Ocean, and German researchers discovered an ecosystem of huge sponges under the ice in the center of the Arctic Ocean on the tops of extinct volcanoes. The This Is Taimyr also reported that an alternative to antibiotics had been found in the Russian Arctic.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

November 28, 2022

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