Dozens of ancient viruses, which had never been seen before, were discovered in an ice sample in Tibet by researchers at Ohio State University. The results of their research were recently published in the journal Microbiome. This is the third time that ancient viruses have been found in the ice cap. Among the genetic codes of the 33 viruses discovered in the samples of ice (formed more than 14,500 years ago!), At least 28 had never been detected before. “These glaciers formed gradually, and along with the dust and gas, many viruses were also deposited in this ice,” said Zhi-Ping Zhong, the researcher leading the study.
“These are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments,” says microbiologist Matthew Sullivan for his part. “Gene signatures help them infect cells in cold environments – just surreal genetic signatures indicating how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions. “
No danger to humans
While the discovery of old viruses may seem worrying during a pandemic, researchers want to be reassuring! Like the viruses already discovered, the 28 new viruses also did not attack humans. It is more likely that these attacked plants and organisms living on the ground.
“We know very little about the viruses and bacteria in these extreme environments, and what is actually there,” says researcher Lonnie Thompson. “How do bacteria and viruses react to climate change? What happens when we go from an ice age to a warm period like the one we are experiencing now? “