Scientists revive 48,500-year-old ‘zombie virus’

Scientists revive 48,500-year-old ‘zombie virus’

Researchers say the resurgence of the virus, which could infect animals or humans, is more dangerous.


First Published Nov 29, 2022, 7:02 PM IST

Scientists revive 48,500-year-old ‘zombie virus’ buried in snow
European researchers examined ancient samples collected from permafrost in Russia’s Siberia region. They revived and characterized 13 new pathogens they called “zombie viruses.”

Scientists have long warned that warming permafrost could exacerbate climate change. But its effect on dormant pathogens is less well understood.

Scientists who have studied ‘zombie viruses’ have found that they have the potential to cause epidemics and therefore may be a “health threat”. Researchers have long warned that melting permafrost could worsen climate change as global temperatures rise.

Because the viruses the researchers targeted were capable of infecting mainly amoeba microbes, the biological risk of reproducing the viruses they studied was negligible.
A team of researchers from Russia, Germany and France explains.

Researchers say the resurgence of the virus, which could infect animals or humans, is more dangerous. Ancient permafrost may release these unknown viruses as it melts, researchers say. They wrote in an article posted on the preprint repository bioRxiv, which has not yet been reviewed. Scientists also note how infectious these viruses remain once exposed to outdoor conditions.

Scientists at the French National Center for Scientific Research have uncovered more than a dozen ancient viruses dubbed ‘zombie-viruses’ from Siberian permafrost. The oldest, called Pandoravirus yedoma, is 48,500 years old. This broke the previous record of 30,000 old viruses found by the same team in 2013.

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Last Updated Nov 29, 2022, 7:02 PM IST

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