Researchers have revealed that they have resuscitated a giant virus which was buried in the ice in Siberia for over 30,000 years and it was found to still be contagious. The virus fortunately only goes after amoebae but scientists declare that as the ice on the Earth’s surface melts more and more, this might trigger the re-occurrence of other prehistoric viruses that may have possible health risks for human beings.
The brand new thawed out virus is the largest one that has ever been discovered. At a length of 1.5 micrometers, it is similar in size to a tiny bacterium. Jean-Michel Claverie and Chantal Abergel, who are both evolutionary biologists and also married to each other, work at a university in France and they each were in charge of the finding. They named the virus Pithovirus sibericum, which was based on the Greek word pithos. This word means a huge container that holds food and wine. Claverie stated that because he and his spouse were both French, they wanted to have wine involved in the name.
Claverie and Abergel have both been involved in the discovery of other “giant” viruses, which also include the very first one found called the Mimivirus, back in 2003. There were also two other viruses, each known as Pandoraviruses. They were discovered in 2013.
It was about two years ago that Claverie and Abergel and their group had learned that researchers in Russia had revived a prehistoric plant that had been found from among fruits which had been buried in Siberian ice that was around 30,000 years old. By using some permafrost samples that were provided by the scientists from Russia, they started to look for gigantic viruses by bringing out the amoebae, because they are the usual targets of such germs as lure. The amoebae began to die, and the group discovered huge virus particles inside them.
When viewing the Pithovirus under a microscope, it looks like a thick enclosed oval that has an opening at one of its ends. This is very similar to the Pandoraviruses, however these are completely different viruses. The Pithovirus also has something which looks like a cork that covers the opening of it’s end. The virus duplicates itself by constructing replication areas inside the cytoplasm of a host. It does this instead of taking over the cell’s nucleus, which the majority of viruses do. Even though it is big, it is mostly empty, stated Claverie. The researchers believed that it was a characteristic of these certain viruses that they constrict the DNA tremendously tight in the tiniest element that is possible. However this large virus is 150 times less compressed than any viruses which have infected bacteria.
Claverie and Abergel are also both worried that with global temperatures on the rise, along with there being drilling and mining operations up in the Arctic, that this could create the perfect environment for many other prehistoric viruses that are still infective and that could even possibly pose a very real threat to the health of humans.
Individuals are already inhaling viruses that number in the thousands each day, and they also swallow billions more if they take a swim in the ocean. The theory that the ice that is melting could release more dangerous viruses is very possible.
The results were printed up in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It has been revealed that researchers have resuscitated a giant virus which was buried in the ice in Siberia for over 30,000 years and it was found to still be contagious. The virus fortunately only goes after amoebae but scientists declare that as the ice on the Earth’s surface melts more and more, this might trigger the re-occurrence of other prehistoric viruses that may have possible health risks for human beings.
By Kimberly Ruble