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Scientists Discovered Ancient Viruses in Ice

Scientists discover Ancient Viruses frozen in two ice samples taken from the Tibetan Plateau in China, and most of them are unlike anything ever seen before.The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Microbiome.They came from ice cores taken in 2015 that scientists said began to freeze at least 14,400 years ago.Zhi-Ping Zhong, lead author and researcher at the Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center said that these glaciers were formed and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice.

The glaciers in western China are not well-studied, and our goal is to use this information to reflect on past environments. Ancient Viruses are a part of the environment. Researchers analyzed the ice, and they found genetic codes for 33 viruses. Of the 33, genetic codes for four of them showed they are part of virus families that typically infect bacteria. Up to 28 were novel, meaning they had never before been identified.

The researchers said it doesn’t believe the viruses originated from animals or humans but came from the soil or plants. The scientists said roughly half of them survived because of the ice. Matthew Sullivan, co-author of the study and director of Ohio State’s Center of Microbiome Science said that these are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments.

These viruses have signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments, just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus can survive in extreme conditions. Sullivan said the technology used to study microbes and viruses inside the ice would lead to looking for similar genetic sequences in other extreme ice environments, possibly on Mars.

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