“Zombie viruses” trapped in the permafrost for 48,000 years have been brought back to life!
Researchers from Aix-Marseille University identified and resuscitated 13 viruses discovered in the ice of eastern Russia. Several viruses have been discovered in the Lena, one of the largest rivers on the planet, and in the cryosol of Kamchatka. Among these samples, a virus from permafrost and 48,500 years old, as well as three others dating from 27,000 years old discovered in frozen mammoth feces and wool. In reference to this extinct mammal, these three viruses have been named Mammoth Pithovirus, pandoravirus mammothand mammoth megavirus. Two other viruses were extracted from a frozen Siberian wolf, and were named Pacmanvirus lupus and pandoravirus lupus.
Viruses capable of causing infectious diseases
The permafrost is a mecca for the study of virusesbecause it is an area where ice and soil mix: it is a place full of microorganisms. The deepest layers of this permafrost are estimated to be a million years old. Once resuscitated, these “zombie viruses”, as the scientists themselves call them, have the capacity to infect amoebae: these are micro-organisms present in the soil and in water and which are similar to parasites. The team’s conclusions are still not very reassuring since they specify that it is possible that these viruses become pathogenic agents for other species as well. They replicate easily and can lead to infectious diseases, with the risk of epidemics.
Create vaccines and treatments without waiting for an epidemic
The Aix-Marseille University team has been working for ten years on viruses from ice. In 2014, they had already succeeded in…
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