Tuesday, March 11, 2014

30,000-Year-old Giant Virus Reawakened From Permafrost Ice Still Infectious

There’s a science story making the rounds this week that could easily pass as a plot for a low-budget science-fiction flick. A team of French scientists have awakened a giant virus that was encapsulated for 30,000 years in 100 feet (30 metres) of permafrost ice taken from coastal tundra in Chukotka, East Siberia. The most chilling (no pun intended) B-movieish aspect of this is that the huge (in this context meaning large enough to be seen under a microscope) ancient microbe is still infectious. Its host targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but other such reawakened viruses may not be as discriminating.
There is concern in the scientific community that resurrection of this long-dormant virus raises apprehension that other unknown pathogens entombed in frozen soil may be unleashed by climate change could pose potential risks for human health.
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