Frankenvirus emerges from Siberia's frozen wasteland

September 8, 2015
Imaging of Mollivirus particles. (A) Scanning electron microscopy of two isolated particles showing the apex structure. (B) Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging of an ultrathin section of an open particle after fusion of its internal lipid membrane with that of a phagosome. (C) Enlarged view of the viral tegument of a Mollivirus particle highlighting the layer made of a mesh of fibrils (black arrow), resembling Pandoraviruses’ intermediate layer, and the underneath internal membrane (white arrow). Three ∼25-nm interspaced rings are visible around the mature particle. (D) Light microscopy (Nomarski optics 63×) imaging of a lawn of Mollivirus particles, some of them (black arrow) exhibiting a depression at the apex. Credit: (c) 2015 PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1510795112

Scientists said they will reanimate a 30,000-year-old giant virus unearthed in the frozen wastelands of Siberia, and warned climate change may awaken dangerous microscopic pathogens.

Reporting this week in PNAS, the flagship journal of the US National Academy of Sciences, French researchers announced the discovery of Mollivirus sibericum, the fourth type of pre-historic virus found since 2003—and the second by this team.

Before waking it up, researchers will have to verify that the bug cannot cause animal or human disease.

To qualify as a "giant", a virus has to be longer than half a micron, a thousandth of a millimetre (0.00002 of an inch).

Mollivirus sibericum—"soft virus from Siberia"—comes in at 0.6 microns, and was found in the permafrost of northeastern Russia.

Climate change is warming the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions at more than twice the global average, which means that permafrost is not so permanent any more.

"A few viral particles that are still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses," one of the lead researchers, Jean-Michel Claverie, told AFP.

The regions in which these giant microbes have been found are coveted for their mineral resources, especially oil, and will become increasingly accessible for industrial exploitation as more of the ice melts away.

"If we are not careful, and we industrialise these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as small pox that we thought were eradicated," he added.

In safe laboratory conditions, Claverie and colleagues will attempt to revive the newly discovered virus by placing it with single-cell amoeba, which will serve as its host.

Claverie, who runs a lab at France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), and a team discovered another giant virus, which they called Pithovirus sibericum, at the same location in 2013, then managed to revive it in a petri dish.

New giant virus discovered in Siberia's permafrost
Scanning electron microscopy of particles of 4 families of giant viruses that have now been identified. The largest dimensions can reach between 0.6 microns (Mollivirus) and 1.5 microns (Pandoravirus).

Unlike most viruses circulating today, and to the general astonishment of scientists, these ancient specimens dating from the last Ice Age are not only bigger, but far more complex genetically.

M. sibericum has more than 500 genes, while another family of discovered in 2003, Pandoravirus, has 2,500. The Influenza A virus, by contrast, has eight genes.

In 2004, US scientists resurrected the notorious "Spanish flu" virus, which killed tens of millions of people, in order to understand how the pathogen was extraordinarily so virulent.

US researchers flew to Alaska to take frozen lung tissues from a woman who was buried in permafrost.

By teasing genetic scraps out of these precious samples and from autopsy tissues stored in formalin, the team painstakingly reconstructed the code for the ' eight genes.

The work was done in a top-security lab at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Explore further: Mega beats Mimi for world's biggest virus

More information: In-depth study of Mollivirus sibericum, a new 30,000-y-old giant virus infecting Acanthamoeba, PNAS, www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1510795112

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leetennant
4 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2015
So, not actually a frankenvirus then?

Headline fail.
ichisan
Sep 08, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
leetennant
4.3 / 5 (23) Sep 08, 2015
Global energy buildup - varied regional impacts. That's not a difficult concept.
zz5555
4.7 / 5 (23) Sep 08, 2015
"Climate change is warming the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions at more than twice the global average, which means that permafrost is not so permanent any more."

So it's a local climate change, now? Whatever happen to the "global" in global warming?

Arctic amplification (http://www.skepti...ion.html ) was a prediction made about global climate change by Arrhenius back in 1896. The fact that polar regions warm up faster than the rest of the earth is just another successful prediction confirming the science.
Be careful, jackasses. We, the people, are tired of the damn lies.

Shouldn't you try to learn some science so you can tell the difference between a lie and something that you just don't understand? That way, you wouldn't look like such a jackass. ;)
TheKnowItAll
1 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2015
Be carful says the scientist bringing it to the lab for duplication. Is this a warning or a threat? I'm just joking...sort of lol
leetennant
4.2 / 5 (20) Sep 08, 2015
"Climate change is warming the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions at more than twice the global average, which means that permafrost is not so permanent any more."

So it's a local climate change, now? Whatever happen to the "global" in global warming?

Arctic amplification (http://www.skepti...ion.html ) was a prediction made about global climate change by Arrhenius back in 1896. The fact that polar regions warm up faster than the rest of the earth is just another successful prediction confirming the science.
Be careful, jackasses. We, the people, are tired of the damn lies.

Shouldn't you try to learn some science so you can tell the difference between a lie and something that you just don't understand? That way, you wouldn't look like such a jackass. ;)


Climate deniers are starting to sound like evolution deniers

"This thing I never bothered to understand is clearly wrong"
antigoracle
1.4 / 5 (11) Sep 08, 2015
Global energy buildup - varied regional impacts. That's not a difficult concept.

Uh huh, yeah, yuh know, like the MWP. Heard of it? No, you say. Well, I guess that one is too difficult for your simple mind.
leetennant
4.1 / 5 (18) Sep 08, 2015
Global energy buildup - varied regional impacts. That's not a difficult concept.

Uh huh, yeah, yuh know, like the MWP. Heard of it? No, you say. Well, I guess that one is too difficult for your simple mind.


Case in point
ichisan
Sep 08, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
gkam
3.5 / 5 (13) Sep 08, 2015
No, his dog got better training. Did you have parents?
ichisan
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 08, 2015
His dog should bite him in the ass.
zz5555
4.8 / 5 (18) Sep 08, 2015
Ice is melting in the arctic but increasing in the antarctic. The antarctic cooling falsifies your crap.

I see. So you didn't know that the antarctic is actually warming - ~3 times faster than the rest of the world (that's why Antarctica is losing ice and that loss continues to accelerate)? (http://www2.ucar....expected )

And you didn't know that the gain in Antarctic sea ice is, at least in part, due to the warming there? (http://www.skepti...iate.htm )

Shouldn't you try to learn some science so you can tell the difference between a lie and something that you just don't understand? That way, you wouldn't look like such a moron. ;)
leetennant
4.5 / 5 (23) Sep 08, 2015
zz555,

Eat shit asshole. I'm not your dog. Ice is melting in the arctic but increasing in the antarctic. The antarctic cooling falsifies your crap. Also, you idiots should stop mentioning stories about rising seas in one little part of the globe as evidence for global warming.


Ignoring your tone, it's good you brought up rising sea levels because this is the perfect analogy for what we're attempting to explain to you.

So, for example, let's say sea levels rise 40cm. That's a global statement: sea levels globally have risen 40cm. Now let's look at the regional impacts of that global fact. Cities like Miami, Bangkok and countries like Bangladesh are low-lying, so that 40cm of sea rises might lead to a local sea level rise that's much higher *in relation to that region*.

This is what we're saying about global warming. A certain amount of energy has built up in the system. How that manifests regionally will vary. But the *energy is still there*.
zz5555
4.8 / 5 (19) Sep 08, 2015
We're coming for you.

Interesting. If you don't mind my asking, why does reality scare you so? Do you really think that just ignoring the real world will make it go away?
someone11235813
5 / 5 (12) Sep 09, 2015
Unlike most viruses circulating today, and to the general astonishment of scientists, these ancient specimens dating from the last Ice Age are not only bigger, but far more complex genetically.


I suppose it makes sense that viruses, organisms that specialise in minimalist life strategies to the point of hovering over the line that separates life from non life, would evolve to simpler forms.
leetennant
4.4 / 5 (14) Sep 09, 2015
Unlike most viruses circulating today, and to the general astonishment of scientists, these ancient specimens dating from the last Ice Age are not only bigger, but far more complex genetically.


I suppose it makes sense that viruses, organisms that specialise in minimalist life strategies to the point of hovering over the line that separates life from non life, would evolve to simpler forms.


It's true that adaptation often preferences simplicity over time, especially if they adapt to a single set of hosts (environments in the case of viruses)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (12) Sep 09, 2015
So, not actually a frankenvirus then?
@Leetenant
not sure... it definitely is BIG though
To qualify as a "giant", a virus has to be longer than half a micron, a thousandth of a millimetre (0.00002 of an inch).

Mollivirus sibericum—"soft virus from Siberia"—comes in at 0.6 microns

i guess by "frankenvirus" maybe they meant big, bulky and scary????

who knows

.

Morons. We're tired of the fucking lies and the fucking liars. We're coming for you.
@ichisan 馬鹿

if i promise to send you the address, will you come yourself? 脳たりん

or are you just posturing?
ichisan
Sep 09, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
animah
5 / 5 (13) Sep 09, 2015
Even the viruses are saying you're a bunch of chicken shit liars. LOL.

You sound like an 8-year old child.
sai_santosh
1 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2015
Thanks for all the resources you are providing which helped us to know about latest trends and updates in the job market especially for the govt jobs.

sssjobs.in
Vietvet
5 / 5 (13) Sep 09, 2015
Even the viruses are saying you're a bunch of chicken shit liars. LOL.

You sound like an 8-year old child.


She is an 8-year old child.
bluehigh
not rated yet Sep 09, 2015
Perhaps it's of some positive practical use.
Wishful thinking but maybe even a cure for something.

"Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life..."

HeloMenelo
4.9 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2015
Global energy buildup - varied regional impacts. That's not a difficult concept.

Uh huh, yeah, yuh know, like the MWP. Heard of it? No, you say. Well, I guess that one is too difficult for your simple mind.


Ahhh The oldest gorilla monkey on physorg giving his chest thumping opinion as always, sayyy... he's just been featured on physorg the other day... :D :D

http://phys.org/n...ity.html
Joker23
1 / 5 (12) Sep 09, 2015
Good GOD! Make sure you don't give it to the EPA...............they'll ''mistakenly'' let it loose in one of our rivers! Isn't it heart warming to know it is in a ''top-security lab at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'' ''SOMEWHERE'' and in the hands of ''government workers''? Sleep well knowing the same government bureaucracy is in charge of this virus.
ONTIME
1 / 5 (7) Sep 09, 2015
I haven't hunted in the Alaskan area in a while now but I still have many friends who do and when I say it freezes, you best believe me....NASA puts out a report on Global Warming, in one it says there is none of consequence, in a day or two the story changes to the panic mode..
B'OB the "unknown" poffers GW and then ask for 30 ice breakers to be built, many of you folks need to get off your butts and go see the reality of Ma Nature and her fickel ways, the living planet is always full of surprises and man the engineer is always going to do battle with survival and the means to make do.....
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Sep 09, 2015
" the reality of Ma Nature "
----------------------------------

How about if we stop pissing her off!?
rchguns
1 / 5 (1) Sep 09, 2015
If these organisms have that many pairs of jeans I question whether it's a virus at all. Although viruses can do a lot of damage and are extremely hard to treat they are not inherently complex.
Is it possible that they may have discovered rather than a virus but a more complex organism in his pre-emergent state?
djfisher3
1 / 5 (3) Sep 10, 2015
I'll admit that I don't know much when it comes to this subject, however in life I have learned that some things are better left alone. So, some self-important science people are going to awaken a virus, or germ, or bacteria, or whatever; that can kill us all and I'm not supposed to be a little concerned about this? LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE WITH THIS THING PLEASE.
leetennant
4 / 5 (8) Sep 10, 2015
@djfisher3 This is not the best article on the subject but it's actually part of the point these scientists are trying to make. We're wilfully and deliberately warming the planet without consideration of the consequences and we need to take things like dormant viruses in the permafrost into account. Part of the reason the scientists are doing this is to make a point about the consequences of permafrost thaw. In 50 years, people will be developing this land - they'll have to as coastal areas and previous arable land become untenable. If viruses like this are there, we could be looking at a disaster.
cgsperling
3 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2015
Wasn't there an X-Files story line like this? Maybe a benevolent alien race planted it so that if we ever caused the planet to warm too much, the virus would awaken and modify our genome so we can adapt to the new climate. Or maybe if we sequence it's genome we will find instructions on how to build CO2 scrubbers to clean the atmosphere. This has been a Sci-Fi minute....we now return you to your regularly scheduled reality.
Moltvic
2.7 / 5 (3) Sep 12, 2015
Sheeee - what could go wrong?
denglish
1 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2015
Do you really think that just ignoring the real world will make it go away?

If things are getting exponentially worse, I wonder why 2015 is a better year for artic ice than 2011 & 2012?
http://ocean.dmi...._new.png

Alarm re: Artic ice loss also seems to be unfounded when looking at the bigger picture. Yes, there is som wane, but in the lasrge scheme of things, there appears to be nothing to be overly concerned about:
http://www.climat...Area.gif

Humans tend to think in very small time scales, making short term variance into large issues.

The actual paper is behind a paywall, but I will point out that there is no mention of AGW in the article or abstract. Therefore, this is an interesting paper pointing out another concern re: global warming, but is not an indictment of humanity's guilt for climate change...until the partisans appear.
denglish
1 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2015
Arctic amplification

I wanted to look at this closer.

RSS measurements of Artic temperatures:
ftp://ftp.ssmi.co...03_3.png
.316 K / decade increase

RSS Lower troposphere:
ftp://ftp.ssmi.co...03_3.png
.121 K / decade increase

RSS Middle Tropo:
ftp://ftp.ssmi.co...03_3.png
.078 K / decade

Theory seems to be validated.

denglish
1 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2015
We're wilfully and deliberately warming the planet without consideration of the consequences and we need to take things like dormant viruses in the permafrost into account.

Anyone else read this as a position of an extremely politically prejudice person?

"Willfully and deliberately" cannot be quantified.

If viruses like this are there, we could be looking at a disaster.

While it is certainly true that we should consider the awakening of dormant viruses as a result of the earth's climatic cycles, one would believe that the true concern is from an anthropocentric viewpoint; skewing the reality of what is really happening.

Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (7) Sep 13, 2015
Anyone else read this as a position of an extremely politically prejudice person?
only someone who is ignorant of the science would think this is prejudiced or political

only someone who refuses to read the actual validated science would consider it something that cannot be quantified

only someone who refuses to accept reality would argue that it is not the case...
we know the problem (validated science)
we know what effect it is having on the environment (validated science)
we have a politically motivated faction fighting against the validated science (validated science)

when you intentionally ignore the science (or reality) for the sake of financial gain (or other motivations), then intentionally obfuscate the validated science through misinformation and obfuscation of various sorts, not including the payment of the immoral to promote a false premise, then it constitutes "willfully and deliberate warming the planet without consideration of the consequences"
Urgelt
5 / 5 (7) Sep 14, 2015
Someone wrote, "I suppose it makes sense that viruses, organisms that specialise in minimalist life strategies to the point of hovering over the line that separates life from non life, would evolve to simpler forms."

Hold up there, Tonto. You *seem* to be suggesting that in 30,000 years, viruses as a class of organisms evolved to much simpler forms.

Not a chance.

Viruses in circulation today can be big or small; they can range from six genes to millions. That's got to be true of viruses 30,000 years ago.

Environmental niches for viruses of all sizes existed then and exist now.

The only significance of the size of the virus they found is a virus that big is easier to find. It's much harder to find one in soil that's six genes long. In other words, there is a selection bias.

Reasoning from a sample size of one, selected with bias, to such a broad conclusion about virus evolution is irrational.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Sep 14, 2015
So, some self-important science people are going to awaken a virus, or germ, or bacteria, or whatever; that can kill us all and I'm not supposed to be a little concerned about this? LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE WITH THIS THING PLEASE.

You're missing the point. These viruses will be awakened anyhow when global warming thaws the environment where they are currently cryogenically kept inert. So it's probably a good idea to study them now, in a controlled manner. It can give us a headstart in looking for their weaknesses well before they become a problem. If we start reseach when a pandemic is in full swing the consequences would certainly be far worse.

As in any field (from biology to war to games to economics): Stuff you don't know can kill you. So you better start gaining knowledge as early as possible.
EnsignFlandry
5 / 5 (5) Sep 14, 2015
If these organisms have that many pairs of jeans I question whether it's a virus at all. Although viruses can do a lot of damage and are extremely hard to treat they are not inherently complex.
Is it possible that they may have discovered rather than a virus but a more complex organism in his pre-emergent state?


I have several pairs of jeans and I'm not a virus.

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