Reactivation of a 48,500-year-old virus from ancient Siberian permafrost


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Scientists have revived a number of ancient viruses that were trapped deep in the permafrost in Siberia since the Ice Age. While the research undoubtedly sounds risky, the team believes it’s a threat worth considering when we think about growth Perils of thawing permafrost and climate change.

In a new paper, not yet peer-reviewed, the researchers explain how they were able to identify and revive 13 viruses belonging to five different groups from samples collected in Russia’s icy far east.

Among the pulls, they were able to revive a virus from a permafrost sample that was about 48,500 years old.

They also revived three new viruses from a 27,000-year-old sample of frozen mammoth poop and a piece of permafrost stuffed with a large amount of mammoth wool. This trio is aptly named Mammoth Pithovirus, Mammoth Pandoravirus, And the Mega mammoth virus.

Two other new viruses were isolated from the frozen stomach contents of a Siberian wolf (the gray wolf), the name of the thing lupus pacmanvirus And the lupus

These viruses infect amoebae, little more than single-celled blobs that live in soil and water, but experiments have indicated that viruses still have the potential to be infectious pathogens. The team inserted the viruses into a culture of live amoebas, showing that they were still able to invade the cell and multiply.

The project comes from a team of researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France who have previously He revived a 30,000-year-old virus It was found in the permafrost of Siberia in 2014. With the newest group of viruses including one dating back 48,500 years, researchers may have revived the oldest virus yet.

“48,500 years is a world record,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, one of the paper’s authors and professor of genomics and bioinformatics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine. new world.

In their paper, the researchers explain that more work needs to focus on viruses that infect eukaryotes, noting that “very few studies have been published on this topic.” They explain that warming from climate change is likely to happen It reawakened many microbial threatsincluding pathogenic viruses from the ancient past.

“As well-documented by recent (and ongoing) epidemics, each new virus, even if related to known families, always requires the development of very specific medical responses, such as new antiviral drugs or vaccines,” the study authors wrote.

“There is no equivalent of ‘broad-spectrum antibiotics’ against viruses, due to the lack of universally conserved pharmacological processes across different viral families. It is therefore legitimate to consider the risk of old viral particles remaining infectious and returning to circulation through the thawing of ancient permafrost layers.”

The paper was recently published on a preprint server bioRxiv.

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