An international team of researchers has revived what they believe is the oldest virus ever revived
Melting permafrost could endanger humanity after reviving an ancient virus that has been frozen for tens of thousands of years, scientists warn.
The international team says such viruses are still capable of infecting living organisms after they observed a total of nine ancient viruses discovered in the Siberian permafrost infecting amoebas in the human body. laboratory.
The team says the oldest newly discovered virus is almost 50,000 years old. “48,500 years is a world record,” Jean-Michel Claverie, a team member and researcher at Aix-Marseille University in France, told New Scientist. His team studied a total of seven ancient viruses in their latest study. The group published a preprint of their work in early November.
The team including scientists from Russia, France and Germany had previously succeeded in reviving two other ancient viruses, which are 30,000 years old. The virus discovered and revived by the team is considered the oldest to have ever been revived, although some other researchers claim to have revived the bacteria, which is believed to be up to 250 million years old.
All of the viruses revived by the group were of the pandoravirus – a giant group of viruses that are only capable of infecting single-celled organisms such as amoeba. However, the fact that all nine ancient viruses are still capable of infecting living cells after spending tens of thousands of years in the permafrost means that other viruses – capable of infecting humans. plants, animals or even humans – trapped there can be freed – and revived – as well, scientists warn.
“There is a real danger,” Claverie said, adding that “There are bacteria and viruses that appear every day.” However, it is not possible to determine the exact level of potential danger at present, the scientist added.
Russia has warned of the possible danger as permafrost continues to thaw due to climate change. Thaw soil that has been deeply frozen for centuries, if not millennia, can still contain “some viable spores of ‘zombie’ bacteria and viruses,” Nikolay Korchunov, Russia’s senior representative to the Arctic Council told RT in 2021.
Moscow said it considers the danger serious enough to launch a biosecurity project and called on all other Arctic Council states to participate. In addition to Russia, the intergovernmental organization includes the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden.
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