15,000 year old viruses discovered in Tibetan glacier

15,000 year old viruses discovered in Tibetan glacier

In 2015, a joint research team from the United States and China entered the Gulia Glacier in Tibet and removed the ancient center (ice sample) that had been drilled outside the North Pole and the South.

Research camp located at the Gulia Summit in Tibet.

Scientists’ research camp at Gulia Glacier in Tibet.

Photo: Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center / Giuliano Bertagna

Carrots have more than half a million years of Earth’s climate history.

You need to know that glaciers are real archives of the planet’s past. Contains information, especially microbiology, to help unravel the history of the Earth’s paleoglimate and predict future climate change.

The layers of ice that form each year trap themselves in the atmosphere around them as each layer freezes. These layers form a kind of chronology that scientists throughout history have used to better understand climate change and gases.

But they can also be used to study viruses and microorganisms and to understand how they evolved over time.

These glaciers gradually formed, along with dust and gases, and many viruses were deposited in the ice.Microbiologist Ji-Ping Zhang, a researcher at the Byrne Polar and Climate Research Center at Ohio State University, said in a statement.

Glaciers in western China are not well studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect the past. Viruses are part of this environment, Says the scientist, whose work was published in the journal Microbial (New window) (In English).

Studying viruses from the past

To do their job, Ji-ping Chong and his colleagues have developed a new ultra-clean technique to analyze the microbes and viruses in the snow without contaminating them.

The main samples analyzed were taken in 2015 at high altitudes near the summit of Gulia, located at an altitude of 22,000 feet above sea level.

A combination of traditional techniques and new, original techniques, the ice in carrots is estimated to be nearly 15,000 years old.

By analyzing the ice, the researchers found the genetic codes of 33 viruses. Four of these viruses were already known to science, but at least 28 of them have not been identified.

According to researchers, half of them survived the freeze, Thanks for that, despite the snow.

These are viruses that have grown in the extreme environment, Says Bra Matthew Sullivan, co-author of the study.

These viruses have genetic signatures that help infect cells in cold environments., Continues Professor Sullivan.

These signatures are not easy to extract, and Xi-ping pioneered carrot disinfection and the study of microbes and viruses in ice, helping to search for these genetic sequences on Mars or other icy environments such as the moon or close snow. Home, in the Atacama Desert, Adds the professor.

Viruses do not share a common and universal gene, so naming a new virus and trying to determine where it fits in the terrain of known viruses involves many steps., Note the researchers in the press release.

To compare unidentified viruses with known viruses, scientists compare sets of genes. Known viral gene packages are listed in scientific databases.

These database comparisons show that the four viruses found at the centers of the Gulia ice sheet have already been identified and belong to families of viruses that commonly infect bacteria.

An area of ​​study of viruses in glaciers Relatively recent Of research. Only the previous two studies have identified viruses in the ice of ancient glaciers, Underlined by Professor Lonnie Thompson.

We know very little about viruses and microbes in this extreme environment., He adds. Better documentation and understanding of them will allow us to understand how bacteria and viruses respond to climate change.

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