Quantcast
Connect with us

Siberian ‘soft virus’ could be just one ancient pathogen revived by climate change

Published

on

Scientists said they will reanimate a 30,000-year-old giant virus unearthed in the frozen wastelands of Siberia, and warned climate change may awaken dangerous microscopic pathogens.

Reporting this week in the flagship journal of the US National Academy of Sciences, French researchers announced the discovery of Mollivirus sibericum, the fourth type of pre-historic virus found since 2003 — and the second by this team.

ADVERTISEMENT

Before waking it up, researchers will have to verify that the bug cannot cause animal or human disease.

To qualify as a “giant”, a virus has to be longer than half a micron, a thousandth of a millimetre (0.00002 of an inch).

Mollivirus sibericum — “soft virus from Siberia” — comes in at 0.6 microns, and was found in the permafrost of northeastern Russia.

Climate change is warming the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions at more than twice the global average, which means that permafrost is not so permanent any more.

The regions in which these giant microbes have been found are coveted for their mineral resources, especially oil, and will become increasingly accessible for industrial exploitation as more of the ice melts away.

ADVERTISEMENT

“If we are not careful, and we industrialise these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as small pox that we thought were eradicated,” he added.

In safe laboratory conditions, Claverie and colleagues will attempt to revive the newly discovered virus by placing it with single-cell amoeba, which will serve as its host.

Claverie, who runs a lab at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and a team discovered another giant virus, which they called Pithovirus sibericum, at the same location in 2013, then managed to revive it in a petri dish.

ADVERTISEMENT

View gallery
In 2004, US at a top-security lab at the Centers for …
In 2004, US at a top-security lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resurrecte …
Unlike most viruses circulating today, and to the general astonishment of scientists, these ancient specimens dating from the last Ice Age are not only bigger, but far more complex genetically.

M. sibericum has more than 500 genes, while another family of giant virus discovered in 2003, Pandoravirus, has 2,500. The Influenza A virus, by contrast, has eight genes.

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2004, US scientists resurrected the notorious “Spanish flu” virus, which killed tens of millions of people, in order to understand how the pathogen was extraordinarily so virulent.

US researchers flew to Alaska to take frozen lung tissues from a woman who was buried in permafrost.

By teasing genetic scraps out of these precious samples and from autopsy tissues stored in formalin, the team painstakingly reconstructed the code for the virus’ eight genes.

ADVERTISEMENT

The work was done in a top-security lab at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump illiteracy goes viral after he calls Pam Bondi ‘a great womem’: ‘He can’t admit he’s wrong to autocorrect’

Published

on

President Donald Trump was mocked by Twitter users on Sunday after mistakenly referred to Pam Bondi as a "great womem."

In a Sunday morning tweet, Trump attempted to praise Bondi, who has taken a job at the White House to help with impeachment messaging.

#QAnon people,

meaning of the typo?

"womem"EMElon Musk?? pic.twitter.com/PGVSEeXQzm

— TheGreatAwakening (@TheGreatAwake17) November 17, 2019

Continue Reading

2020 Election

How Democratic women drove the 2018 blue wave

Published

on

After Hillary Clinton lost to a talking yam with criminal tendencies in 2016, a number of people got antsy about the idea that the country was really ready yet to embrace women in politics. But a huge number of Democratic women rejected that narrative and instead decided that the solution was for more women to run for office. The result? A record-setting number of women elected to Congress and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

This artivcle first appeared in Salon.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Pence adviser says that Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian president was ‘unusual and inappropriate’

Published

on

Mike Pence sneer

Jennifer Williams, a Special Adviser on Europe and Russia issues for Vice President Mike Pence's foreign policy team, told congressional investigators that she viewed President Donald Trump's July 25th phone call to Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky as "unusual and inappropriate." Williams had listened in on the phone call while it was happening, and a whistleblower revealing the controversial contents of that call prompted the current impeachment inquiry into Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image