The zombie viruses have come back to life after being frozen for 48,500 years
Thawing of frozen landscapes is unleashing infectious “zombie viruses” that have been trapped underground for thousands of years, according to New search.
The northern hemisphere has permanently frozen beneath, and is facing irreversible thawing due to the climate crisis. This decaying landscape releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, adding even more heat to the planet.
The new study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie Alembec of France’s National Center for Scientific Research, looked at samples collected from permafrost in Russia’s Siberian province. With this in mind, scientists were able to awaken 13 new viruses they dubbed “zombie viruses” — including one that remained infectious after more than 48,500 years in the deep permafrost.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, noted that there is limited research on “live” viruses found in permafrost.
“This erroneously indicates that such incidents are rare and that ‘zombie viruses’ do not pose a threat to public health,” the team wrote.
The viruses examined in the study were capable of infecting Acanthamoeba A single-celled microorganism.
Use Acanthamoeba The “viral bait” was a viable option, the researchers said, because it is not only “ubiquitous” in soil, fresh and marine water but also in swimming pools, taps, drains, aquariums and sewers, as well as in hydrotherapy pools, cooling and aeration systems. and intensive care units – to name a few.
“Their virus detection may provide a useful test for the presence of any other live viruses in a given location,” the study said.
While the biological risk of reviving prehistoric viruses that infect amoeba is “negligible,” the team noted that the findings suggest that virus liberated from permafrost could pose a future danger to animals or humans — particularly with rapid changes in environmental factors. expected caused by the climate crisis.
“It is thus likely that ancient permafrost (more than 50,000 years old, our limit dictated by the validity range of radiocarbon dating) would release these unknown viruses when the ice thawed.” “It is impossible to estimate how long these viruses can remain infectious once exposed to external conditions (UV light, oxygen, heat), and how likely it is that they will encounter and infect a suitable host in this period. But the risk is bound to increase in the context of global warming when the ice continues to thaw. The climate continues to accelerate, and more people will live in the Arctic in the wake of industrial projects.
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