Scientists have discovered 15,000-year-old viruses frozen in glaciers

Scientists have discovered 15,000-year-old viruses frozen in glaciers

Researchers Yao Tandong, left, and Lonnie Thompson are processing an ice core from the Gulia ice cap on the Tibetan Plateau in 2015.

Lonnie Thompson / Ohio State University

Researchers studying the ice of the Tibetan Glacier have discovered a treasure trove of unknown viruses that can shed new light on how viruses have evolved over time. The team published an essay The microorganisms they found and the methods used to study them, In the Microbiome Journal this week.

“Viruses and bacteria play a vital role, both good and bad, so we need to better understand those roles.

Glacier samples were obtained from the summit of Gulia Glacier in western China at an altitude of 22,000 feet above sea level. Each sample is made up of layers, which act like time capsules, telling a story of past weather and environment.

The research team found the date of the glacier’s ice 15,000 years ago and found the genetic codes for 33 viruses. Four of them were familiar to science and at least 28 were novel or previously unknown. About half Viruses seem to love the extreme cold they lived inSurviving harsh environments is not the same as surviving cold temperatures, ”Ohio State University said in a statement.

“Our research shows that bacteria and viruses are archived in the ice sheets that make up an ice core, so these documents will allow us to study things like the evolution of microorganisms over time,” Thompson told CNET. “Most of the biodiversity on our planet exists as microbes, most of which we know very little about.”

Researcher Analysis “Viruses do not originate from animals or humans, but from soil or plants, Based on the environment and databases of known viruses. ”

There is a model for detecting long-frozen viruses. Scientists have revived a 30,000-year-old giant virus Found in Siberian permafrost. The virus only targets amoebae. Thompson said there was no evidence at this stage that the frozen viruses described in the new study were capable of regenerating.

The newspaper discusses how Glaciers are shrinking due to global warmingMan is the face of extreme climate change, and melting is said to cause “loss of antiquities and archives.” Microbes and viruses. “

The researchers were able to analyze the ice cores using an “ultra clean” method that eliminates pollution. This process will one day be applied to samples from other worlds such as Mars.

Scientists have answered the research, some big questions that have not yet been answered.

“We know very little about viruses and microorganisms in these extreme environments, what they really are.” Thompson said. “Its documentation and understanding is very important: how will bacteria and viruses react to climate change?

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