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15,000-year-old viruses found in melting glaciers in Tibet

15,000-year-old viruses found in melting glaciers in Tibet

It feels like the dark beginnings of a horror movie: Creatures thousands of years old crawling out of the melting ice… It’s not just a movie, it actually happens. The question is what will they do.

“Thawing permafrost not only leads to the loss of these ancient, preserved microbes and viruses, but also leads to their release into our world,” the researchers wrote. In a new study.

Scientists discovered 33 viruses, 28 of which had never been seen before, at a distance of 6.7 kilometers in the mountains of Tibet. “These are viruses that circulate in extreme conditions,” Ohio State University microbiologist Matthew Sullivan told Science Alert. “They have leftover genes that help them infect cells in a cold environment. They are surreal features of how the virus survives in extreme conditions.”

While the idea of ​​viruses emerging from permafrost may seem daunting at the end of the pandemic, the greater danger lies in what is being released from melting ice, namely giant reservoirs of methane and carbon, warming the Earth. More.

It is still not clear what the newly discovered viruses will do. “We know very little about viruses and microbes in these kinds of extreme environments. What else is there under the ice? How do bacteria and viruses interact with a warmer environment?” These are questions that we hope will be answered in future research.

Bronn (nen): Science alert
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