Researchers Found Ancient, Never-Before-Seen Viruses in a Glacie

James Marshall
January 23, 2020

The viruses were found inside the centers of a 15,000-year-old Guliya ice top on the Tibetan Plateau. While humans were busy domesticating dogs, the ice entrapped millions of microscopic organisms per square inch.

Describing their findings in a paper posted on a preprint server called bioRxiv, the researchers warned that as glaciers around the world seem to be shrinking due to the climate becoming warmer, this tendency could, "at minimum", lead to the loss of such "microbial and viral archives" which offer a unique insight into Earth's past "climate regimes".

In the study, an worldwide group of scientists organized analysis of a pair of ice cores taken from Tibetan glacier. Samples were then examined for the presence of microorganisms, and the researchers found a total of 33 types of viruses, 28 of which were completely new to science.

They employed their techniques to consider two ice core samples of the Tibetan icy masses which were collected and stored previously beforehand without special care against tainting.

The researchers looked at two samples from the glacier, one from 1992 and the other from 2015, both of which had pristine insides, according to the study.

The team had the option to get to the samples by gradually getting off the external layers of ice by various methods. It is assumed that they belong to different periods, as different from each other by device.

Knowledge of these potential re-released viruses could be important amid worldwide ice melt, and scientists are only scratching the surface of viruses, according to French National Centre for Scientific Research's Chantal Abergel to Vice.

"However, in a worst-case scenario, this ice melt could release pathogens into the environment", they note.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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