Scientists have revived a ‘zombie’ virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost. In areas with relatively warm temperatures in the Arctic, the heat is thawing viruses frozen in permafrost – a frozen layer of soil below the ground – viruses that, after lying dormant for thousands of years, are threatening animal and human health and can put you in danger.
Scientists have warned that chemical and radioactive waste dating back to the Cold War era, which has the potential to harm wildlife and disrupt ecosystems, could also be released into the open atmosphere from this meltdown.
Covered area of permafrost :
The permafrost area covers a fifth of the Northern Hemisphere for millennia, containing the arctic tundra and boreal forests of Alaska, Canada, and Russia . It serves as a time capsule, preserving – in addition to ancient viruses – the mummified remains of several extinct animals that scientists have been able to locate and study in recent years, including two cave lion cubs and a woolly rhino.
Permafrost is a strong storage medium:
Permafrost is a good storage medium, not only because it is cold but also because it is an oxygen-free environment in which light does not penetrate. But the Arctic is currently warming four times faster than the rest of Earth, causing the region’s top layer of permafrost to weaken.
Zombie virus :
To better understand the risks posed by frozen viruses, Jean-Michel Claverie, an emeritus professor of medicine and genomics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine in Marseille, France, tested samples taken from Siberian permafrost so that it can be seen whether there are any viral particles or not. Those contained therein are still infectious. He’s been looking for what he describes as a “zombie virus” – and he’s found some.
Claverie, who studies viruses:
Claverie studies a special type of virus which he first discovered in 2003. They are larger than normal virus and easily visible with a regular light microscope – which makes them a good model for laboratory work. Their efforts to locate the virus frozen in permafrost were partly inspired by a team of Russian scientists who, in 2012, resurrected a wildflower from 30,000-year-old seed tissue found in a squirrel’s burrow. (Since then, scientists have also successfully brought ancient microscopic animals back to life.) In 2014, he managed to revive a virus that he and his team isolated from permafrost, the first time in 30,000 years Made it infectious by putting it in cultured.
In their latest research, published February 18 in the journal Virus, Claverie and his team isolated several strains of the ancient virus from several samples taken from seven different sites of permafrost in Siberia, and showed that they could infect amoeba cells in culture.
Oldest frozen virus:
The oldest virus ever recovered from permafrost is approximately 48,500 years old, based on radiocarbon dating of the soil, and came from a soil sample taken from an underground lake 16 meters (52 ft) below the surface. The youngest specimens found in the stomach contents and coat of the woolly mammoth’s remains were 27,000 years old. Amoeba-transmitted viruses are still infectious after such a long time, indicating a potentially larger problem.
Threat with conclusion:
“He fears that people will treat his research as a scientific curiosity and not see the possibility of ancient viruses coming back to life as a serious public health threat,” Claverie said. We’ve found traces of many other types of viruses, we know they’re buried there, but we don’t know for sure they’re still alive, yet our argument is that if amoeba viruses are still alive, they’re There’s no reason why other viruses wouldn’t still be alive, and able, to infect their own hosts.”