It’s like the beginning of a horror movie – from the ice that is now melting, ancient creatures “waking up”, giant wolves from 40,000 years ago and bacteria from 750,000 years ago.
All ancient creatures are dead or in reality. Centuries-old moss was able to revive in the heat of the lab. The same thing happened with roundworms 42,000 years ago.
Observing these amazing events gives us insight into ancient ecosystems, as well as the environment in which they lived. However, that is not all – the melting of ice revives even the oldest viruses.
“In addition to slipping away from the ancient microbes and viruses stored in the ice, it is also possible that they may have been released into the environment,” wrote scientists in a study led by Ohio State University microbiologist Zhi-Ping Zhong.
Thanks to new metagenomic techniques, scientists are able to better understand what is happening in massive ice and what they store.
According to a new study, the team was able to identify tens of 15,000-year-old viruses on the icy surface of the Guliya in the Tibetan highlands, allowing them to study their functions.
Researchers have discovered 33 ancient viruses at an altitude of 6.7 kilometers above sea level, 28 of which were not known to us until now.
“These are viruses that have withstood extreme conditions,” said Matthew Sullivan, a microbiologist at Ohio State University.
The genetic data of the detected viruses were compared to the viruses in the databases, and the team of researchers found that they were bacteriophages that produce methyl bacterium.
“We know very little about the viruses and bacteria that live in these extreme conditions,” said Earth researcher Lonnie Thompson.
During a mid-pandemic, the appearance of old viruses from melted ice sounds even more disturbing, however, with even more dangerous ice melting, viruses will emerge from massive reserves of methane and carbon. Nevertheless, it is clear that ice helps us better understand old climate change and the evolution of viruses.
The study was published in the journal Microbiome.