15,000-Year-Old Viruses Discovered in Tibetan Glacier Ice – Previously Unknown to Humans
Most of the viruses were previously unknown to humans, study finds.
Scientists who study glacier ice have found viruses nearly 15,000 years old in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China. Most of those viruses, which survived because they had remained frozen, are unlike any viruses that have been cataloged to date.
The findings, published on July 20, 2021, in the journal Microbiome, could help scientists understand how viruses have evolved over centuries. For this study, the scientists also created a new, ultra-clean method of analyzing microbes and viruses in ice without contaminating it.
“These glaciers were formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice,” said Zhi-Ping Zhong, lead author of the study and a researcher at The Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center who also focuses on microbiology. “The glaciers in western China are not well-studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect past environments. And viruses are a part of those environments.”
The researchers analyzed ice cores taken in 2015 …
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