European researchers revive 'zombie virus' that remained 48,500 years under the ice

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European researchers revive 'zombie virus' that remained under ice for 48,500 years

The thawing of the millenary permafrost due to climate change could lead to may represent a new threat to humans, according to researchers whoNearly two dozen viruses have revived, including one frozen under a lake for more than 48,500 years.

European researchers examined millennial samples collected from the permafrost in Russia's Siberia. Scientists revived and described 13 new pathogens, which they called “zombie viruses,” and discovered that they remained infectious despite spending many millennia trapped beneath frozen ground.< /p>

Scientists have long warned that the thawing of permafrost caused by global warming will worsen the climate. climate change because it will release energy. previously trapped greenhouse gases, such as methane. But its effect on latent pathogens is less well known.

The team of researchers from Russia, Germany and France said the biological risk of reviving the viruses they studied was “totally negligible.” ” due to the strains addressed, mainly those capable of infecting amoeba microbes. The possible reactivation of a virus that could infect animals or humans is much more problematic, they said, cautioning that their work can be extrapolated to show that the danger is real.

“For Therefore, it is likely that the millennial permafrost will release these unknown viruses upon thawing,” they wrote in a paper posted on the bioRxiv prepublication service that has not yet been peer-reviewed. “It is still impossible to estimate how long these viruses might remain infectious once exposed to outdoor conditions, and how likely they are to find and infect a suitable host in the interval.”

“But the risk will undoubtedly increase in the context of global warming as permafrost thaws continue to accelerate and more people populate the Arctic as a result of industrial advances,” they wrote.