Scientists revive ‘Zombie’ virus after 50,000 years trapped in Siberia’s permafrost

Scientists revive ‘Zombie’ virus after 50,000 years trapped in Siberia’s permafrost

As our world continues to warm, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that has been trapped for up to a million years. This includes countless many microbes that have been dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists at the French National Center for Scientific Research have already revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one believed to be nearly 50,000 years old—a record age for a frozen virus to return to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are a potentially significant threat to public health, and further research is needed to assess the danger these infectious agents may pose when permafrost thaws. melt.

Researchers warn that this may only be the tip of the iceberg:

“A quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is under permanently frozen ground, called permafrost,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to a warming climate, the irreversible thawing of permafrost releases organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Some of this organic matter also consists of reanimated cellular microbes (prokaryotes, single-celled eukaryotes) as well as viruses that have remained latent since prehistoric times.”

According to Global news:

In 2014, the same researchers found a A 30,000 year old virus trapped in the permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was ground-breaking because after so much time the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that’s 48,500 years old.

“If the authors do indeed isolate living viruses from ancient permafrost, it’s likely that even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses could also survive frozen for centuries,” said virologist Eric Delwart of the University of California, San Francisco. A new scientist.

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