Melting of Siberian permafrost revives ancient killer Virus
French scientists have just revealed that a 30,000 year-old giant virus they thought ‘dead’ had come back to life, killing amoebas under the microscope.
University of Aix-Marseille National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) professor Jean-Michel Claverie said ‘This is the first time we’ve seen a virus that’s still infectious after this length of time.’ The Pithovirus sibericum specimen, with a size of 1.5 micrometres, visible under a light microscope, was taken 100ft below the surface in Siberian permafrost.
The researchers clarified that the virus was harmless to animals and humans. But what they fear is that more dangerous viruses could come back to life since the Siberian permafrost is at risk of continued thawing due to uncontrolled carbon emissions.
In another study, researchers said Dramatic climate change could happen if the average temperature of the world hits 1.5 degrees C higher than present. At present, global carbon emissions has led to global warming by 0.8 degrees C. This means it will take another 1.2 degrees C for the permafrost to totally melt and unleash more ancient viruses.
But professor Claverie clarified that even without global warming, industrialising areas in Siberia is still ‘a recipe for disaster.’ Explorations mean mining and drilling, leading to the eventual exposure of killer ancient viruses, like small pox.
So far, researchers have found 10 specimens of bacteria that have come back to life after being buried under permafrost.