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posted by martyb on Thursday July 22, @07:02AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the take-your-pick dept.

Dozens of new viruses discovered in 15,000-year-old glacier ice:

Scientists have collected viruses from almost-15,000-year-old ice samples, taken from glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau. Dozens of species were found to be unknown to science, which could provide an intriguing look back at the history of viral evolution.

[...] In the new study, led by researchers from Ohio State University, ice cores were drilled from the Guliya ice cap on the Tibetan Plateau, which were dated as far back as 14,400 years old. The team then analyzed these cores for what kinds of viruses they contained, and the genetic codes of 33 viruses were identified. Four of these were found to belong to known types of bacteriophage, viruses that prey on bacteria, but at least 28 of them didn’t match any known type.

[...] Contamination by modern microbes is a serious problem for this kind of study, so the researchers developed a new method for sterilizing the ice cores. They removed half-centimeter (0.2-in) layers of the outer material with different techniques – first band saw scraping, then an ethanol wash, and finally a sterile water wash. The inner section of the core could then be examined free of contamination.

The team tested this sterilization process on their own artificial ice cores, which were coated in bacteria, viruses and DNA. After they conducted their three-step process, no traces of these mock contaminants were detected in the inner ice cores.

Journal Reference:
Zhi-Ping Zhong, Funing Tian, Simon Roux, et al. Glacier ice archives nearly 15,000-year-old microbes and phages [open], Microbiome (DOI: 10.1186/s40168-021-01106-w)


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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @07:11AM (9 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @07:11AM (#1159062)

    Instead of worrying so much about contaminating the frozen viruses with modern microbes, why didn't they worry about contaminating the modern world with the frozen viruses?

    Would the actions of a maniacal supervillain out to rid the world of the stain of humanity, by finding old viruses we've not been exposed to, be any different?

    • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Thursday July 22, @07:29AM (2 children)

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Thursday July 22, @07:29AM (#1159064)

      The chance that they're adapted to reproduce in humans, multiplied by the chance of them producing disease, is low enough that I won't worry. I certainly won't worry about the bacteriophages.

      What would be worrisome would be extracted viruses from grave sites. I think I've read about "Spanish flu" viruses extracted from people in frozen graves and I hope that was handled with great care.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @10:32AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @10:32AM (#1159082)

        "The chance that they're adapted to reproduce in humans, multiplied by the chance of them producing disease, is low enough that I won't worry. "

        - Ming Chao, Director of Wuhan Research Lab, late 2019

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @02:27PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @02:27PM (#1159123)

          "AC, you do not know what you are talking about, [grantome.com] quite frankly. And I want to say that officially." -- Anthony Fauci, US Director of Wuhan GoF Research, summer 2021

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @10:11AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, @10:11AM (#1159077)

      I highly doubt anything which occured so recently poses a large enough threat to care about.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Thursday July 22, @11:29AM (1 child)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 22, @11:29AM (#1159091) Journal

      *facepalm*
      Global warming is still happening, the ice is still melting and you are afraid of a few ancient bacteriophages that will get back into the world sooner or later?
      Or you have Yeti as your ancestor and you're afraid he let some snot in the glacier just to cull his unworthy descendants?

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by shrewdsheep on Thursday July 22, @01:58PM

        by shrewdsheep (5215) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 22, @01:58PM (#1159113)

        He was just worried that instead of performing gain of function research with the newly discovered viruses, the viruses would be just sequenced and destroyed while being handled safely. That would be a real facepalm moment, wouldn't it?

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by driverless on Thursday July 22, @12:40PM

      by driverless (4770) on Thursday July 22, @12:40PM (#1159104)

      Well that's just great, isn't it? The world is grappling with Covid19 and scientists bring us Covid-15000, Covid-14992, Covid-14983, Covid-14...

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Thursday July 22, @03:59PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 22, @03:59PM (#1159137) Journal

      Would the actions of a maniacal supervillain out to rid the world of the stain of humanity, by finding old viruses we've not been exposed to, be any different?

      Don't maniacal supervillains have the means to get extraterrestrial ice samples and bring them back to earth?

      Put them into a swimming pool. Erect a sign saying NO SWIMMING, to encourage people to expose themselves to the novel viruses.

      --
      What can be done to stop bloggers from using the wrong color schemes?
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday July 22, @04:19PM

        by Freeman (732) on Thursday July 22, @04:19PM (#1159143) Journal

        You're assuming extraterrestrial viruses exist. That's a might large assumption.

        --
        Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
  • (Score: 1, Redundant) by FatPhil on Thursday July 22, @10:26AM

    by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Thursday July 22, @10:26AM (#1159080) Homepage
    And they did things the right way - they attempted to sneak something past their cleaning regime.

    Let's just hope they're just as fastidious when it comes to the gain of function research that they'll be performing on the bugs.
    --
    I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
  • (Score: 2) by Taxi Dudinous on Friday July 23, @04:43PM

    by Taxi Dudinous (8690) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 23, @04:43PM (#1159428)

    Don't fear the viruses. Too bad the US wasted so many years focusing on antibiotics and disregarding the research on bacteriophages, just because the research was in Russian. As alluded to in the link above, it took several years of GoF experimentation to prepare SARS-CoV-2 to be unleashed on the populous. It is estimated that, on this planet, there are 100,000,000 viruses for every star in the known universe. Yes, 10^30 viruses. Collect them all! /s

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