Researchers have announced that they have discovered multiple ancient viruses after testing a sample from a 15,000-year-old glacier.
According to the study, researchers took samples from the Guliya ice cap, a 15,000-year-old glacier located in China's Tibetan Plateau. The researchers found genetic codes for 33 different viruses, and of those 33 viruses, 28 of them have never been seen before.
Matthew Sullivan, a co-author of the study and a professor of microbiology at Ohio State, as well as the director of Ohio State's Center of Microbiome Science, said, "These viruses have signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments - just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions."
The researchers believe that studying microbes and viruses in these extreme environments will unlock more knowledge about how viruses evolve. Sullivan goes on to explain that "the method that Zhi-Ping [study's lead author] developed to decontaminate the cores and to study microbes and viruses in ice could help us search for these genetic sequences in other extreme icy environments - Mars, for example, the moon, or closer to home in Earth's Atacama Desert."
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