Top News
Next Story
NewsPoint

Scientists Find 15,000-Year-Old Unknown Viruses Trapped In Tibetan Glacier

Send Push
Indiatimes
22nd July, 2021 11:51 IST

Scientists studying glaciers have discovered viruses from around 15,000 years old from the two ice samples they've collected from the Tibetan Plateau in China, most of which are unknown to humans to date.

Representational image: Getty Images

Also Read: Hidden Gene Found In COVID-19 Virus Could Help Us Fight Pandemic Better

The findings (published in the journal Microbiome) could help scientists better understand how viruses have evolved over the centuries. The scientists were also able to create a new ultra-clean method for analysing microbes and viruses in ice without contaminating it.

Researchers analysed ice cores that were taken in 2015 from the Guliya ice cap in western China. These were taken from the summit of Guliya -- around 22,000 feet above sea level.

These cores were made up of layers of ice that got accumulated every year while trapping things in them. These layers sort of formed timelines that scientists have now used to understand more about climate change, microbes, viruses and gases throughout history.

Dating the core using a combination of conventional and novel techniques, the analysis revealed that the ice was nearly 15,000 years old. However, along with this, they discovered genetic codes for 33 viruses -- four of those viruses have already been identified by the scientific community -- and at least 28 of them are novel, which means unknown to humans.

Also Read: Ultrasound Kills Coronavirus, Next Step Is Using It As Covid-19 Treatment

According to researchers, they might have survived at the time they got frozen, actually because of the ice.

imageRepresentational image: Getty Images

The viruses don't really share a common universal gene, so scientists haven't really been able to name them just yet. To compare the novel viruses with the known ones, scientists compared gene sets that are catalogued in scientific databases, especially for known viruses.

Also Read: Viruses Play Key Role In Our Ability To Reproduce And Survive, Study Finds

The four viruses that seem familiar actually belong to virus families that typically infect bacteria. The researchers found the viruses in concentrations far lower than their normal levels when detected in soil or ocean.

Researchers' analysis sheds light on the fact that the viruses likely originated with soil or plants and is not animal or human-based.

Explore more on Newspoint
Loving Newspoint? Download the app now