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posted by martyb on Thursday July 22, @07:02AM   Printer-friendly
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: 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?

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