The more you know

Melting glaciers

Eh here, it seems that the melting of glaciers could release very old and potentially dangerous viruses. A research team of Chinese and U.S. scientists examined two 15,000-year-old ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau, detecting 33 viruses, many of which were completely unknown. The study was published in the bioRxiv journal. After digging 50 meters in the Tibetan Plateau, to investigate any pathogens lying inside the glacier, the researchers discovered 28 new viruses of unknown action out of 33 detected. In the worst case scenario, according to the research, viruses could be released into the atmosphere following global warming and melting glaciers. The 5-year project began with the removal of the top layer of ice (about half a centimeter), subsequently decontaminated with an ethanol and water wash. The team then applied genetic and microbiological techniques to record DNA within the two ice samples. Scott Rogers, professor of Bowling Green State University and author of the book “Thawing ancient microbes: emerging genomes in a warmer world”, writes that “this situation could trigger an incurable plague that could compromise the existence of life on the planet. The dangers enclosed in ice are real and, with the increase in the melting of ice all over the world, the risks deriving from the release of pathogenic microbes into the environment also increase “. According to the author, a long inactive microbe has already been released from the ice, we are talking about the 2016 anthrax outbreak in Serbia, attributed to the thaw of the permafrost.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Boris Benscoter
    July 7, 2020 at 4:52 am

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    • Reply
      Anfalidrissi
      July 15, 2020 at 6:03 am

      Happy to hear that. Thank you for this nice comment!

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