A new study recently showed some findings; specifically, the mystery viruses recently detected in ancient China glaciers could help scientists in their exploration initiatives in extreme climates like those detected on Mars or the moon.
As indicated in a Miami Herald report, not much is known about viruses detected in extremely icy environments, specifically those in glaciers.
A research team at Ohio State University examined two ice cores from an almost 15,000-year-old glacier from the northwestern Tibetan Plateau in China.
As a result, the team found genetic codes for 33 viruses, at least 28 of which, the team said, "are novel," and identified. Around half of these viruses were able to survive in the sample because they were frozen.
According to the study's lead author, Zhi-Ping Zhong, the glaciers were formed slowly, and along with gases and gust, numerous viruses were also deposited in the ice.
The lead author added, in western China, glaciers are well-examined, and their goal is to use such information to reflect previous environments. More so, viruses are a part of such environs.
As stated in a press release, The Ohio State News posted on its website; the research team believes the viruses stemmed from soil or plants, instead of animals or humans, based on the database and the environment of known viruses. In general, as mentioned earlier, the team said their research could help researchers in the future in a few ways.
At first, the study authors developed a new "ultra-clean method" that is not contaminating the viruses or bacteria when examining them.
Essentially, according to the study co-author Matthew Sullivan, such a method could help future researchers in their explorations for signs of viruses and microbes in exceptionally cold environments like the moon or Mars.
He added these are viruses that would have prospered in extreme environments. These viruses have genes' signatures that help them infect cells in cold atmospheres, just surreal signatures for how viruses can endure extreme conditions.
Sullivan also said, "these are not easy signatures to pull out," and the approach developed by Zhi-Ping to decontaminate the cores and to examine bacteria and viruses in ice could help them look for these genetic sequences in other extreme freezing environments, for example, Mars, the moon or nearer home in the Atacama Desert of Earth.
The glacier ice records will show scientists how viruses and bacteria are evolving over thousands of years. The ice cores used in the study, "Glacier ice archives nearly 15,000-year-old microbes and phages", published in Microbiome, were taken from the "summit and plateau of the Guliya" ice cap in western China.
Each year, the ice traps, whatever is in the atmosphere, developing a preserved record, researchers can examine to understand the effect of climate change, viruses, microbes, and gases, the release specified.
However, as glaciers continue to quickly melt because of climate change, such viruses will ultimately be released into the environment. This, according to the report, is largely uncharted territory for researchers.
In a statement, the study's senior author Lonnie Thompson said very little is known about viruses and bacteria in these extreme environments and what is really there.
A related report is shown on Amaze Lab's YouTube video below: