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Ice Virus

from CBC News

Giant virus revived from ancient permafrost

Melting permafrost could unleash new human pathogens

The giant virus obtained from Siberian permafrost was frozen for 30,000 years, but was able to infect an amoeba when it was revived.The giant virus obtained from Siberian permafrost was frozen for 30,000 years, but was able to infect an amoeba when it was revived. (Image courtesy of Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel, IGS and CNRS-AMU.)

Scientists have discovered a new type of  virus in 30,000-year-old permafrost and managed to revive it, producing an infection.

Fortunately, the new virus, named Pithovirus sibericum, infects amoebas and is not harmful to humans.

But its ability to become infectious again after so many millenniums is a warning, writes Jean-Michel Claverie at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique at Aix-Marseille University and his colleagues in a new study published Monday.

“The revival of such an ancestral amoeba infecting virus … suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Giant DNA viruses, first discovered just 10 years ago, are so big compared with most other viruses that they are visible under a visible light microscope. Before the new virus was discovered, just two families were known.

[ click to continue reading at CBC News ]

Posted on March 6, 2014 by Editor

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