Scientists at Ohio State University in the United States have discovered viruses more than ten thousand years old in the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau in China. According to the researchers, they identified the genetic codes of 33 viruses, four of which were already known, and 28 & mdash; completely new, unlike modern ones.
What do we know about the discovery?
In 2015, biologists at Ohio State University took two cores (rock samples) from the Gulia Glacier in western China. They had layers of ice that built up year after year and held back whatever was in the atmosphere at that time. Age of samples & mdash; about 15 thousand years old.
According to an article published in Microbiome, about half of viruses survive by freezing. According to scientists, they are adapted to cold and are able to infect cells at low temperatures.
Are viruses dangerous for humans?
According to scientists, viruses are most likely harmless to animals and humans, but they can infect plants. The study authors believe viruses may have grown in soil and plants (not in animals and humans). Additionally, scientists believe that the cold is not terrible for viruses. According to one of the study participants, Ohio State University professor of microbiology Matthew Sullivan , viruses have characteristic genes that help them infect cells in very cold conditions.
According to the researchers, most viruses came back to life after the ice melted, suggesting that as glaciers melt, ancient viruses could traced back to the area. According to scientists, the study of ancient viruses will allow us to study their evolution and how they reacted to climate change. The results obtained, in particular, will help researchers to predict how the different biological forms will develop.
Scientists also note that the viruses detected do not have a common universal gene, so their identification and naming takes place in several stages. To do this, experts compare the gene sets of new and known viruses already entered into databases.