Creation of permafrost. An ancient virus hidden under the ice of Siberia came to life after 48,500 years
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This is a world record. Scientists say an ancient Siberian permafrost virus is the oldest ever revived.
Pandoravirus was discovered in 2013 and named after Pandora's box. It is a genus of giant viruses and is the second largest of all genera of viruses known to science after pitoviruses, writes the Daily Mail.
Jean-Michel Claverie, a virologist at the University of Aix-Marseilles in France, says the pandoravirus is only one micrometer long and 0.5 micrometers wide, making it visible even with a light microscope. This specimen was found in permafrost at a depth of about 16 meters below the bottom of Lake Yukechi Alas in Yakutia, Russia. According to researchers, the pandoravirus is at least 48,500 years old and is now the oldest one ever reanimated.
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Note that this is not the first time Professor Claveri and his colleagues “resurrect” ancient viruses, they have previously managed to resurrect two virus mined in permafrost, which is about 30 thousand years old.
In total, during the expedition, scientists managed to get 9 different viruses, all of which are capable of infecting amoeba, but are harmless to plants or animals. However, Professor Claveri does not rule out that other frozen viruses may well be dangerous to animals and humans.
65% of Russia's territory is classified as permafrost – a territory that remains frozen regardless of the season. However, as the planet warms due to global warming, the permafrost begins to melt. As a result, scientists are increasingly finding the remains of ancient animals in the area, such as a 14,000-year-old mammoth or the head of a 40,000-year-old wolf. Scientists fear that along with similar findings, we may also discover ancient viruses that could survive a thousand-year freeze.
According to Professor Claveri, the main problem at the moment is that ancient bacteria are awakening due to the melting of glaciers which we are not familiar with. Previously discovered viruses show that they are able to wake up and attack, and even if we are talking about single-celled organisms, we cannot be sure that under the ice of Antarctica and Greenland, for example, ancient viruses that are dangerous to humans are not hiding.