Melting Arctic ice might awaken 30,000-year-old virus


An ancient virus has been discovered lurking within melting Arctic ice, raising new concerns about the potential effects of
global warming.
In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , French researchers analysed a melting layer of permafrost in north-eastern Russia and found the strain of “Mollivirus sibericum”, which is contagious enough to infect a modern amoeba.
So although the virus  just one of four large, centuries-old viruses that have been found lying dormant in samples of usually frozen soil since 2003 doesn’t appear to be infectious to humans, the discovery has triggered fears that other, more harmful microbes could be unleashed by melting polar regions.
So furthermore, it’s not just the effects of climate change that could wake up these viruses. Many parts of the Arctic are rich in mineral resources and oil, and are being increasingly targeted for industrial exploration, which could potentially disturb hitherto undiscovered pathogens
Jean Michel Claverie , one of the paper’s lead authors, commented: “If we are not careful, and we industrialise these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as small pox that we thought were eradicated.”
Previously, the same team discovered another “giant” or larger than half a micron virus in the same area in 2013, which they dubbed “Pithovirus sibericum”. So They then reanimated the Ice Age specimen in a lab to study its complex genetic structure, an investigation the scientists are hoping to repeat with the latest finding.


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