Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Ancient Giant Virus Discovered

A new species of giant virus discovered in the Siberian permafrost, where it’s been buried for 30,000 years, is reincarnated in the lab.

In PNAS of a new species of virus has been found by researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France discovered buried in the permafrost of Siberia.

The new virus, dubbed Pithovirus sibericum, measures 1.5 μm in length and 0.5 μm in diameter—even bigger than former record holders, the pandoraviruses, which are only 1 μm long and 0.5 μm in diameter. P. sibericum was identified as part of a survey of the virome of Siberian permafrost, isolated from a sample that’s more than 30,000 years old, according to the researchers. Nevertheless, when given access to an amoeba host in the lab, P. sibericum infected the cell, raising concerns about the possible risk such giant viruses might pose if they are released from the thawing Arctic ground.

The discovery also calls into question the veracity of some viral eradications, including smallpox and the livestock disease rinderpest.

Posted by Tim Sandle