Giant virus revived from deep freeze in Siberian tundra

March 2014BIOLOGYA 30,000-year-old giant virus has been revived from the frozen Siberian tundra, sparking concern that increased mining and oil drilling in rapidly warming northern latitudes could disturb dormant microbial life that could one day prove harmful to man. The latest find, described online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appears to belong to a new family of mega-viruses that infect only amoeba. But its revival in a laboratory stands as “a proof of principle that we could eventually resurrect active infectious viruses from different periods,” said the study’s lead author, microbiologist Jean-Michel Claverie of Aix-Marseille University in France. “We know that those non-dangerous viruses are alive there, which probably is telling us that the dangerous kind that may infect humans and animals — that we think were eradicated from the surface of Earth — are actually still present and eventually viable, in the ground,” Claverie said. With climate change making northern reaches more accessible, the chance of disturbing dormant human pathogens increases, the researchers concluded. Average surface temperatures in the area that contained the virus have increased more steeply than in more temperate latitudes, the researchers noted. “People will go there; they will settle there, and they will start mining and drilling,” Claverie said. “Human activities are going to perturb layers that have been dormant for 3 million years and may contain viruses.” Claverie’s co-author, Chantal Abergel, nonetheless cautioned that their finding is limited to one innocuous virus infecting an amoeba.“We cannot definitely say that there are some human pathogens in there,” she said. They will reexamine the drill core samples, Abergel said, to “find out if there is anything there that is dangerous to humans and animals.”
Claverie’s laboratory was behind the discovery, in Chile, more than a decade ago, of the first giant DNA virus, dubbed Mimivirus. They next identified a far larger virus of an entirely different family in 2011, dubbing it Pandoravirus salinus, in homage to the mythical Pandora’s box that first unleashed evil on the world. This time, they used an amoeba commonly found in soil and water as bait to draw out a virus from a Siberian permafrost core that had been dated to 30,000 years ago. The finding described Monday looked like another Pandora, except it was 50% larger. “Giant” in virology is still pretty tiny. A virus of one micron in size, or a thousandth of a millimeter, is considered huge. That’s big enough to be seen with a normal light microscope. The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, measures one tenth of a micron. The genome of the newly described virus, however, contained only about a quarter of the number of paired DNA building blocks as Pandora, and the prevailing type of these base pairs was similar to the kind that dominate the Mimivirus genome. Researchers kept with the ominous mythological theme and dubbed their find Pithovirus, from the Greek pithos, the type of amphora, or jar, that Pandora opened (it was not a box, after all). Pithovirus still has an unusually large genome — 600,000 base pairs, which the researchers predict would include genes that code 467 proteins. The genome of Pandora virus contains more than 2.8 million base pairs and about 2,500 coding genes. For comparison: the tiny HIV retrovirus has 9,749 base pairs and nine coding genes; the virus that causes mononucleosis has about 172,000 base pairs and about 80 genes. The prospect of finding additional viruses that prove to be viable in a host remains uncertain. Microbiologist Brent C. Christner, of Louisiana State University, who has done similar work on frozen microbes but was not involved in the study, cautioned that DNA is easily damaged and that viruses cannot replicate or mutate without a host. “They have no source of energy,” he said. “They have to hijack the mechanisms of the host cell.” –LA Times
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10 Responses to Giant virus revived from deep freeze in Siberian tundra

  1. Irene C says:

    When I first read this the verse that came to mind was Matthew 24:7 – For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and PESTILENCES, and earthquakes, in divers places.


  2. Jennifer says:

    Hello Alvin,
    Thank you for the two sites you manage. They provide a wealth of knowledge not found else where. Hope you are well.

    One of the most disturbing aspects this article high lights is man’s inability to learn. The very name the scientists chose, ‘Pandora virus,’ is a clear indication of just how foolish we are. They know they are playing with ‘fire’ and yet onward they proceed. As if the world is not in enough peril.

    May our great and good God in Heaven continue to be patient with us foolish men.

    All the best,


  3. Samantha Jameson says:

    Sounds like Jean-Michel Claverie has been doing research for more than a decade into “things” that he should not be experimenting with. Maybe it’s time to take the keys to the lab away from him.


  4. Faye Brown says:

    This is soooo very interesting … It’s said that the amoeba itself consists of a protoplasmic mass in a thin membrane .. and “protoplasm ” comes from the Greek protos meaning first, and plasma meaning a thing formed … which was first described in 1846 as the “tough, slimy, granular, semi-fluid” substance within plant cells and was later referred to as the “physical basis of life” … which because of it’s unique and mysterious composition it prompt much controversy over what sort of substance it actually was .. With the not knowing inspiring attempts to develop synthetic protoplasm, yet those attempts were not successful …

    Now having understood the mysticism of the amoeba .. and understood the purpose of such a mega virus’ fundamental purpose, as to attack in some way .. this mystical and none duplicatable amoeba element … which has been dubbed the definition of being a ‘first thing form’ to develop life … then I would have to consider that this megavirus was designed by evil and diabolical minds … it wouldn’t be the first time evil minds of man has designed a virus to harm the people in mainstream ..

    BUT-IF … this virus is a “proton-bunch driven plasma cell” … a necessary coded membrane sheet .. for the high energy acceleration process facing mainstream … then it would be a Good and Positive resulting virus … which was intelligently instilled in the ice to lay dormant just for these times, knowing that the melting process of the earth changes would release their results …

    Either way I consider the amoeba is a God-given design of the CREATOR … and because of this … “will survive” … even if by aided Divine intervention …

    But now I’m pulling for the Good and Positive Virus … AND … Divine intervention …


  5. pperk1954 says:

    For the past week have been unable to pin photos to Pinterest. The photo section of the pin is completely blank. Thought The Extinction Protocol would like to know….


  6. Violet says:

    Some global organization has to put their hand in this kind of science. Why would anyone want to revive an old giant virus? Do they have the antidote?


  7. Gail says:

    Global Warming? These idiots still persist in babbling away about that fraud!


  8. Dah, I new this long ago this was to happen. ( are scientists that stupid)
    That’s why us humans need to stop messing with the earth, things are like this for a reason…


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