Out of Siberian ice, a virus revived

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

A virus that science previously didn’t know existed was found in Siberian permafrost ice and REVIVED.  The permafrost is 30,000 years old!  The virus is in a group called “giant viruses” which infect amoebae and can be 1,000 times larger than viruses that infect plants and animals. (They can have up to 2,500 genes, compared to the 13 genes in the influenza virus.)  Scientists found this new type of virus, called a pithovirus, was killing amoebae after it was defrosted from the permafrost.  Around 60% of its genes are not similar to any life currently on Earth! What if these new viruses could infect humans? Giant viruses haven’t been found to infect more than amoebae yet, but living things can evolve in crazy ways.  Scientists are excited for the discovery’s possible evolutionary and health implications.http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/science/out-of-siberian-ice-a-virus-revived.html

Photo credit: Julia Bartoli and Chantal Abergel
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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.