According to Science Alert, scientists have successfully reanimated the zombie virus after it was trapped in Siberian permafrost for 50,000 years.
According to a pre-print study (pdf below), French researchers have revived more than a dozen ancient viruses that had been buried deep below the Siberian permafrost for about 50,000 years.
Science Alert states that researchers from the French National Centre for Scientific Research were able to identify 13 never-before-seen viruses that had been dormant in the ice after getting samples of seven ancient permafrost.
In 2014, the same researchers discovered a virus that had been trapped in permafrost for 30,000 years. Notably, it could still infect living things. According to Science Alert, they have now exceeded their old record with a discovery that is 48,500 years old and was given the moniker Pandoravirus yedoma.
The experts warned that these “zombie viruses” posed a risk to public health and cited continued dangers from global warming that would cause deadly pathogens from the past to resurface.
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“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect,” the authors wrote. “Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”
As Global News notes,
Some of these “zombie viruses” could potentially be dangerous to humans, the authors warn. And, in fact, thawing permafrost has already claimed human lives.
In 2016, one child died and dozens of people were hospitalized after an anthrax outbreak in Siberia. Officials believe the outbreak started because a heat wave thawed the permafrost and unearthed a reindeer carcass infected with anthrax decades ago. About 2,300 reindeer died in the outbreak.
The resurrected viruses fall under the categories of pandoravirus, cedratvirus, megavirus, pacmanvirus, and pithovirus. They are referred regarded as “giant” viruses because of their size and ease of detection under light microscopy.
Read the study given below: