What is the nearly 50,000-yr-old 'zombie virus' revived by scientists recently?

What is the nearly 50,000-yr-old 'zombie virus' revived by scientists recently?

The 'Zombie' virus emerged due to the thawing of permafrost as the global temperature is rising.

French scientists have warned of the onset of another outbreak after they revived a 48,500-year-old zombie virus buried under a frozen lake in Russia.

However, the report was published in New York Post, which quoted a viral report, that is yet to be peer-reviewed. The new research was helmed by microbiologist Jean-Marie Alempic from the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

The virus emerged due to the thawing of permafrost as the global temperature is rising. 

The new strain is one of 13 viruses outlined in the study, each of which possessed its own genome, Science Alert reported.

The oldest, dubbed Pandoravirus yedoma after the mythological character Pandora, was 48,500 years old, a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state where it has the potential to infect other organisms. 

This has broken the previous record held by a 30,000-year-old virus discovered by the same team in Siberia in 2013.

Pandoravirus was discovered below the bottom of a lake in Yukechi Alas in Yakutia, Russia, others have been found everywhere from mammoth fur to the intestines of a Siberian wolf.

What could be the cause of it?

According to the study, one-quarter of the Northern hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost. 

What is the nearly 50,000-yr-old 'zombie virus' revived by scientists recently?
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Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. 

Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.

Is the virus potentially harmful?

Scientists discovered that all of the "zombie viruses" have the potential to be infectious and hence pose a "health danger" after researching the live cultures. 

They believe that pandemics like Covid-19 will become more common in the future as melting permafrost releases long-dormant viruses like a microbial Captain America, as per the New York Post.

"It is therefore legitimate to ponder the risk of ancient viral particles remaining infectious and getting back into circulation by the thawing of ancient permafrost layers," they write.
 
Unfortunately, it's a vicious cycle as organic matter released by the thawing ice decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect and accelerating the melt.

However, scientists believe that the discovery of the recent virus is just the tip of the iceberg, as more such viruses are resting underneath that requires further study and research. 

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