Ancient Viruses Uncovered

by Irma Arkus

Recent efforts to drill core samples of ancient frozen lakes in Antarctica and Arctic have been controversial to say the least.

Many in scientific circles have been outspoken over the facts that drilling those samples may contaminate precious life that still may exist in the lakes underneath the permafrost. Others have warned that collecting ice samples may even release ancient bacteriae and viruses.

But the value of these samples is undeniable. Not only do they represent an immense amount of information in terms of climate change, but recently, samples have uncovered a remarkable number of viruses which may shed light on evolution of life in general.

Recent study revealed some 10,000 virus species present in the samples from Lake Limnopolar at Antarctic Peninsula.

Furthermore, the viruses are extremophiles, meaning that many of them are still very much alive, prone to surviving in extreme conditions including low grade temperatures, low light, oxygen deprivation and low nutrient factors. [SciAm