Twenty-eight new viruses, believed to be 15,000 years old, have been found to have survived within the glaciers.
Viruses unknown to science were found in ice samples excavated from Gulia Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau in western China.
Scientists have identified a total of 33 viral genes, of which at least 28 are novel, they said. Four known viruses have been found to infect bacteria.
The new viruses are not thought to be harmful to humans, and scientists hope that the viruses will help us understand more about viral evolution and climate change.
In 2015, two ice cores were dug out of ice 22,000 feet above sea level.
The glaciers formed over a long period of time and accumulated dust, gases and viruses, said Ji Ping Zhang, lead author of the study, and a researcher at the Baird Center for Climate Research at Ohio State University.
“The glaciers in western China have not been well studied and our goal is to use this information to reflect the past,” he added.
The method that Kong uses to “clear cores” to study microbes and viruses could help search for similar genetic sequences in “other harsh icy environments,” said Matthew Sullivan, an assistant professor of microbiology in Ohio. Including “Near Home in the Atacama Desert of Mars, Moon, or Earth”.
The detected viruses are not harmful to humans because they are inactivated by “nucleic acid extraction chemistry”.
However, the study concluded that glaciers could eventually melt and release viruses that infect humans.
“Glaciers have maintained ecological conditions and microbes for tens of thousands of years,” she said.
Unfortunately, glaciers around the world, including the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, are rapidly shrinking, mainly due to the warming of the ocean system and Earth’s atmosphere.
“Not only will this thawing lead to the loss of those old, archived microbes and viruses, but it will also result in their release into the environment in the future.”
The scientists’ study was published in the journal last month bacterial.
The BBC reported that in August 2016, a 12-year-old boy died of anthrax from a dead deer off the coast of the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic Circle, and at least 20 people were hospitalized.
The heat waves are believed to have thawed the permafrost that has plagued deer for more than 75 months, allowing the bacteria spores to infect the population.
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