Viruses have been with us forever. Many of them remain in the past, others arise in our time. But sometimes they return to the present. Some were found in the ice of the Tibetan plateau. Viruses from 15,000 years ago are found in glaciers. They survived frozen. And they do not resemble any previously cataloged virus.
Hidden in the ice
Glaciers in western China are not well studied. We’d like to use this information to reflect past environments. And viruses are part of those environments, ”said Zhi-Ping Zhong. He is the author of the study and a researcher at Ohio State University (USA).
The results, underlines the institution, would help understand the evolution of viruses. Ice samples taken in 2015 from the Guliya Ice Sheet (Western China) were analyzed. The ice cores were collected from the top of the glacier. It is about 6,700 meters above sea level. They are layers of ice that have accumulated over the years. They trap everything in the atmosphere around them by freezing.
“These glaciers gradually formed. Many viruses remained in the ice along with the dust and gases, ”said Zhi-Ping Zhong. You’re like a timeline on hold.
The 15,000 year old viruses found in glaciers have brought some surprises with them. The genetic codes of 33 viruses were found. At least 28 of them were previously unknown. They likely come from the soil or from plants, not animals or humans.
The more the climate changes, the more important these studies are. Says Lonnie Thompson, a professor at Ohio State University. “We know very little about viruses and microbes in these extreme environments. How do bacteria and viruses react to climate change? What happens when we move from an ice age to a warm period? ”Added Thompson.
The study was published in the journal on July 20 Microbiome.