Researchers resurrected virus from 700-year-old caribou feces

Researchers resurrected virus from 700-year-old caribou feces

Ice can preserve just about anything, including viruses in fecal matter.

Researchers have recovered viral genetic material from 700-year-old frozen caribou feces found in the Canadian Selwyn Mountains. Researchers, including the Emerging Pathogens Institute’s Arvind Varsani, hypothesize that these viruses originate from plant material ingested by caribou or from flying insects and that their preservation can be attributed to protection within viral capsids maintained at cold temperatures. The virus discovered was not dangerous. The team warns that as Arctic ice melts faster with climate change, it could release ancient viral particles into the environment, which can potentially be infectious.

To learn more about this discovery, check out the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report.


External Media Coverage:

NPR – “Ancient Viruses Lurk In Frozen Caribou Poo”

The Scientist – “Ancient Plant Virus Found in Caribou Poop”

Science Magazine – “Virus resurrected from 700-year-old caribou dung”

Medical News Today – “Ancient viruses regenerated from 700-year-old frozen reindeer poop”