Reviving ‘Zombie Virus’ Trapped in Siberian Permafrost for 50,000 Years
Scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research uncovered over a dozen archaic viruses in the Siberia region of Russia.
In a report published in Science Alert, researcher Jean-Marie Alempic from the French National Centre for Scientific Research emphasized that releasing the microbes into the environment would pose a significant public health risk. Among the 13 ancient viruses revived by the researchers, the oldest one was an amoeba virus that had remained dormant under a lake for 48,500 years. Through live single-cell amoeba cultures, the team established that all 13 viruses retained the potential to transform into infectious pathogens.
The researchers have also revealed that nine of the thirteen mentioned in the paper are estimated to be tens of thousands of years old. There were other viruses located in mammoth wool and the intestines of a Siberian wolf, all buried beneath the Siberian permafrost.
Further study is needed to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as they are eventually released into the atmosphere.