30,000 Year Old Giant Virus Found Frozen in Siberia, Still Works

#Science

Tue, Mar 4th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to CBC News, scientists discovered "a new type of virus in 30,000-year-old permafrost and managed to revive it." The virus, Pithovirus sibericum, was immediately able to infect an amoeba. While this virus is not harmful to humans, "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. Both infect amoebas.

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