Samples of several viruses that claim to be more than 15 years old were collected in a glacier in the Chinese part of Tibet. The models are unlike any other ever discovered and have survived frozen for thousands of years.

"These glaciers were gradually formed, and along with the dust and gases, many viruses were also deposited on this ice," said scientist Zhi-Ping Zhong, one of the authors of the study who works at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at the Ohio University (USA).

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15 thousand year old virus

15 thousand year old virus

The research was published on the platform Biorxiv and highlights the fact that the microbes in the sample collected in 2015 are not compatible with any other previously seen. In addition, the ice was overlapping, bringing content from different eras in its layers.

With this, scientists also analyze the material to understand climate change, gases, bacteria and viruses that have been present over the centuries in the last 15 years. In total, 33 viruses were found in the sample, of which 29 are new and only four had been seen before.

"Although the cores of Ice glacier provide climate information over tens to hundreds of thousands of years, the study of microbes is challenged by ultra-low biomass conditions and virtually nothing is known about co-occurring viruses,” Zhong added.

“Together, these experiments establish a clean procedure for studying microbial and viral communities in low-biomass glacier ice and provide background information for glacier viruses, some of which appear to be associated with the dominant microbes in these ecosystems,” concluded the researcher. The 15-year-old viruses are still likely to have more data released after a more thorough analysis.

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