15,000-Year-Old Viruses Were Pulled From a Tibetan Glacier
A team of microbiologists studying glacier ice in Tibet found 33 different viruses dating back to the Pleistocene in the core samples they pulled up. They suspect that the viral communities may have been active on glacier surfaces before being frozen and that some may be active even within the ice cores.
The viruses found in the ice cap, called Guliya, are thought to have infected the microbes that inhabited the same ice. The team is not sure when those infections occurred, though—whether the viruses were most active before the ice cap formed or only thrived once it did. Their complete analysis of the viruses’ ecology was recently published in the journal Microbiome.
Based on the genetics of the various viruses, the team was able to attribute different bacterial hosts to some of them. The team notes that climate change means those pathogens are melting out of their stasis in the glaciers, which could be a problem in multiple ways. “Such melting will not only lead to the loss of those ancient, archived microbes and viruses but also release them …
More on: gizmodo.com